Mild January ushers in arctic freeze

The coldest January day in the record books is -26 C, which dates back to New Years Day 1979

A cold snap this first week of February is a brisk reminder that winter isn’t ready to wind down just yet.

The Arctic front, which saw temperatures fall to -13 C on Tuesday, followed an unremarkable first month of the year.

In fact, January was warmer than usual and had less of a mixture of snow and rain than what is typical.

“The month was slightly milder and slightly dryer than an average January,” Castlegar forecaster Ron Lakeman said in his month-end summary. “The mean monthly temperature was 1.1 degree milder than normal.”

Two new record daily maximum temperatures of 5.5 C and 6.4 C were set on Jan. 4 and Jan. 6 respectively.

The last Sunday of the month, Jan. 27, was the warmest day at 6.6 C. Notably, the all-time record still stands at 10 C from Jan. 16, 1974, according to Lakeman’s statistics.

As far as snowfall, January’s accumulation of just under 54 centimetres (cm) was very near the typical average of 55.4 cm. However, the total amount of precipitation, or the water equivalent of snow and rain, was 73 per cent of normal.

“The initial ten days of the month and again from the 17th through the night of the 22nd, were relatively eventful with frequent Pacific systems providing occasional precipitation,” Lakeman reported. “Snow prevailed, there were only a few days with light rain.”

The most significant frontal system produced 27 cm of snow and a small amount of rain the night of Jan. 8 through the early morning of Jan. 10.

A strong upper ridge of high pressure dominated for dry and mainly cloudy to partly cloudy conditions the third week and again during the final nine days of the month.

The coldest temperature was -11.3 C during the early morning of Jan. 8. The coldest day of January -26 C was recorded 40 years ago on Jan. 1.

The weather anomaly known as El Niño is playing a role in a milder than usual climate this season.

El Niño is an ocean phenomenon in the south Pacific that affects weather patterns around the world, most particularly in North and South America. While the mechanics of it aren’t completely understood, for our part of the world, the El Niño means a slightly warmer, and dryer winter.



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Interestingly, January 2018 was under the influence of its counterpart called La Niña.

That weather influence led to the greatest amount of snowfall in Trail in 36 years.

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