Victoria sees ‘one of the warmest Decembers on record’: Meteorologist

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It was far from a White Christmas this year on Vancouver Island, with many communities seeing their warmest December on record, according to Environment Canada.

Environment Canada meteorologist Trevor Smith says temperatures last month were above the seasonal average, while next week will see temperatures drop to below seasonal norms.

“So December 2023, across much of Vancouver Island, was either the warmest or one of the warmest Decembers on record,” said Smith.

“Precipitation as well was kind of slightly below normal in some places, and a little bit above normal in others,” he added.

The Victoria International Airport weather station saw its warmest December ever, with a mean temperature of 6.8°C last month.

On Dec. 28, the Tofino airport also recorded a high of 16°C, marking its warmest December day ever recorded in the region.

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El Niño

Smith says this year’s El Niño weather is one source of the increased temperatures this winter.

El Niño is a global weather pattern that occurs when surface waters in parts of the Pacific Ocean warm and push east, toward the west coast of the Americas, causing changes in the jet stream across the Pacific.

“I guess the warmth we saw in December wasn’t really that unexpected with El Niño conditions dominating in the eastern Pacific,” he said.

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.”

Next week, freezing temperatures are expected for many areas of B.C., particularly in higher elevations.

Snow flurries are also possible for Greater Victoria late next week, though chances are moderate to low this far out.

“So we’re in sort of this cooler, moist flow in the next few days, producing mostly rain in the lowlands, but mostly snow in the mountains,” said Smith.

“Then in the middle part of next week, maybe Thursday or Friday, the computer models show we’re goin to see some arctic air moving from the Interior onto the coast.”

He says the models are still variable, especially one week out, but at the very least people on Vancouver Island should expect below-average temperatures next week.

“I think the message is, definitely be prepared for winter weather, for well below normal temperatures, and maybe even seeing snow reaching the cities in the lowlands starting as early as about Thursday next week,” said the meteorologist.

Snowpacks and wildfires

Smith says that Vancouver Island is still slightly below average when it comes to precipitation for the winter, and snowpacks are well below the norm.

That being said, the incoming precipitation next week could give snow packs a boost.

Smith adds that while the BC River Forecast Centre and BC Wildfire Service are already mumbling concerns about next year’s wildfire season because of recent drought and below-average snow packs, he says it’s too early to tell what the year will hold.

If there is enough precipitation through the spring, B.C. could still reach its normal rainfall levels, he says.

SEE ALSO: Two more daily weather records fall on Vancouver Island

-With files from the Canadian Press

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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