‘Hugely concerning’: Warm weather sets B.C. up for continued drought, says meteorologist

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From bare ski hills, to late morning dips in Victoria’s Gorge waterway to crocuses blooming in February — an early spring is upon Western Canada.

“It’s great! It’s fabulous!” said Jim Farley, who lives in Greater Victoria.

But despite dealing with weather whiplash from January’s cold snap to now unseasonably high temperatures, it’s not all petals and pretty things.

“It’s hugely concerning,” said Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. “There’s very few silver linings that I can see from wearing a T-shirt in January when it comes to this overall pattern.”

As temperatures rise, across the province the snow pack is starting to melt.

“This is something that we usually see in the spring melt. So we’re seeing that in late January early February, and it’s really remarkable,” said Castellan.

And despite Punxsutawney Phil predicting an early spring on the east coast, Violet, Vancouver Island’s marmot, didn’t even wake up for her mid-winter checkup, casting her vote for six more weeks of winter.

“Not only maybe is she just a sleepy marmot, it could be that it is a bit of wishful thinking,” said Adam Taylor with the Marmot Recovery Foundation. “For marmot’, they’d like to extend their hibernation until March or April.”

READ MORE: Violet the Vancouver Island marmot sees shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter

Coming off the heels of a multi-year drought, meteorologists are already concerned the warm weather may cause water scarcity in the summer, and dry out the forest fire fuels much earlier than usual.

“These types of wet patterns that we’ve seen this past week, we would need that over and over in order to catch up that deficit, and it would still take months,” said Castellan.

Castellan also says there’s not much precipitation in the forecast because of such a strong El Nino signal this year. He predicts the low precipitation will continue into March and April.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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