Vancouver Island residents should expect snow in higher elevations next week, though exact amounts and times are hard to pin down.
While many areas of the Island have seen a historically warm December, a chilly and moist system is set to reach the Island Monday, with potential for snow in the forecast later in the week, starting around Thursday.
As of Saturday afternoon, there is a 40 per cent chance of flurries for Victoria beginning Wednesday night, which bumps up to a 60 per cent chance on Thursday night into Friday, according to Environment Canada.
Meanwhile, in the Nanaimo area, there is a 40 per cent chance of rain or snow on Monday, and a 40 per cent chance of snow flurries on Wednesday night, before that increases to a 60 per cent chance on Thursday.
“I guess the warmth we saw in December wasn’t really that unexpected with El Niño conditions dominating in the eastern Pacific,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Trevor Smith on Friday.
But he added that “just because it’s an El Niño doesn’t mean we aren’t going to see any snow, or we won’t see any cold air.”
“So we’re kind of in a west to northeasterly flow of air with some weather systems accompanying that,” said Smith. “So snow packs should expect to build. Any rain we’re seeing right now in the lowlands will fall as snow in the mountains.”
On Friday, Jan. 5, snow was falling along Sutton Past, west of Port Alberni.
Staff at Nanaimo’s Risebridge warming centre were also doing their best to prepare for next week’s coldsnap.
“Last year when we had the cold temperatures we were way over capacity and it’s hard to turn people away when you know you are sending them out into the freezing cold where they will die,” said Jennifer Smith, director of client care at Risebridge.
“People have frostbite when it’s not freezing cold,” she said Friday.
Risebridge is hoping for last minute funding to open its warming centre overnight through next week’s freezing temperatures.
The warming centre, which helps an average of 100 people per day, is also appealing for warm blankets, socks and pillows.
With files from CHEK’s Skye Ryan