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December temperature extremes highest in 40 years for West Kootenay

Snowfall was 40 per cent above average at Castlegar weather station
Castlegar’s Zuckerburg Island. Photo: Thu Trieu

The West Kootenay experienced an extreme change in temperatures over the month of December, especially when comparing the first and last days of the month.

On Dec. 1 a record-breaking high temperature was set when the weather station at the West Kootenay Regional Airport measured 14.6 C. This is now the new record high temperature for any time during the month of December with the previous record set in 1996 at 12.5 C.

By the end of the month, a modified Arctic air mass brought much colder temperatures and the month’s minimum temperature was set on Dec. 31 at -18.9 C.

Southeast Fire Centre weather forecaster Jesse Ellis says this is the widest range of December temperatures seen in over 40 years.

The mean monthly temperature of -4.2 was noticeably lower than average.

During the month there was 40 percent more snow than average, but rainfall was less than 10 per cent of normal, yielding total precipitation that was 22 per cent below average.

Ellis explained that winter weather systems often start off as snow in the valleys before precipitation eventually becomes mixed with or turns to rain. With the cooler-than-average temperatures during the month, this usual pattern occurred much less often or much later in each storm’s life-cycle.

RELATED: Twice the rain, half the snow in West Kootenay in November

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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