Residents of the Cowichan Valley woke up Monday morning to more snow than they’ve seen in a long time — almost three years according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Snowfall amounts ranged throughout the Valley from seven or eight centimetres in North Cowichan to 10 centimetres on the Malahat to as much as 15 centimetres in Lake Cowichan and other higher elevations in the region.
“The last time we got significant snow was about 1,000 days ago, in February 2014. So it’s been a good while,” said Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. “Essentially we’ve had no big snow storm that’s had a lot of impact on society for upwards of 1,000 days. It’s certainly a story we realize, which is why our phones are ringing off the hook.”
Castellan attributed the dump of white stuff to a ridge of pressure that’s built up over the western sections of North America, allowing a cold mass of air to move over the coast.
Temperatures in the valley this time of year typically include highs of 7 C and lows of 1 or 2 C. Sunday night’s dip below zero was unusual, but nothing drastic according to Castellan.
“It’s not like we’re breaking records by going 10 degrees below zero but by a few, just enough the snow becomes a possibility,” he said.
School District 79 had already scheduled a non-instructional day for Dec. 5, so classes were not impacted by the inclement morning weather and students were free to enjoy the white stuff while it lasted.
By mid-afternoon, most of the snow in Duncan had melted.
As for whether this wintry weather is a sign of a white Christmas, Castella said it’s far too early for a Dec. 25 forecast. However, a statistical analysis of weather conditions (dating back to 1955) available on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s website reveals a 10 per cent chance of a white Christmas in Victoria, the closest available city.
“That means two centimetres on the ground,” said Castella, adding that because the Cowichan Valley is not as close to the ocean, there is a slightly higher chance of snow here on Christmas, especially at the high elevations.