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Questions for Claire

Archives: September

My husband and I 'feel' it will be a cold/snowy winter here on the Island. We've even cut/stacked 6 truckloads of firewood just in case. What's the forecast for 2008/09 winter season, Claire?

Monday, September 22, 2008 | 05:48 PM PT

Question submitted by Carol Elder
(Nanaimo, B.C.)

Funny how the change of season gets people thinking ahead!

I am very nervous about giving out seasonal forecasts - mainly because day to day weather variances often bear little resemblance to the seasonal forecast. On a very general level, the relative warmth of the Pacific ocean around the equator, often gives us an idea as to whether or not the upcoming season will be warmer or cooler than average.

Every two to seven years off the western coast of South America, ocean currents and winds shift, bringing warm water westward, displacing the nutrient-rich cold water that normally wells up from deep in the ocean. The invasion of warm water disrupts both the marine food chain and the economies of coastal communities that are based on fishing and related industries. Because the phenomenon peaks around the Christmas season, the fishermen who first observed it named it El Niño (“the Christ Child”). In recent decades, scientists have recognized that El Niño is linked with other shifts in global weather patterns.

The equatorial Pacific is presently considered to be "ENSO-neutral" - meaning conditions are neither warm nor cold. Very weak below-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) still exist near the dateline, and weak above-average SSTs are present in the eastern equatorial Pacific. There is a 90 percent probability of ENSO-neutral conditions persisting over the coming season.

So basically - we're looking at a "normal" lead into winter!

Environment Canada also issues seasonal forecasts: check out

Does the Chilcotin have the highest average daily swings in temperature in Canada? If not, in which communities would it be higher?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008 | 12:50 AM PT

Question submitted by Junah
(Lumby, B.C.)

Wow, that's a fantastic question! And you're thinking in the right direction! Basically anyone living in a "continental" region in this country, that is away from a large body of water, will see more extreme daily temperature ranges or swings than someone living by the moderating influence of water.

I do believe however that Southern Alberta - namely around Pincher Creek - see's even greater swings than the Chilcotin region of BC because of the occasional warm Chinook Winds that blow through that particular area. This "exagerates" the potential for an already wildly swinging temperature regime. For example in Pincher Creek, the temperature rose by 41°C (from -19°C to 22°C) in one hour in 1962 when a particularly strong Chinook blew through.

I am thinking about a move to Vancouver Island in the new year. Can You tell me what area has the least rain and gets the most sun?! I dread the rain, but I know it's more than the Okanagan gets anywhere!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 | 05:37 PM PT

Question submitted by Angie
(Kelowna, B.C.)

Oh Dear Angie!! Be warned - the Island is much wetter than your current residence! Now that being said Victoria is historically much less wet than say Tofino. The "best" locations for dryness on the Island are those areas that fall in the rain shadow of the central highlands along the spine if the Island. Very broadly speaking areas on the east side of the island will be drier than areas on the west. I would however go check out the historical weather information published by Environment Canada.. the data that you are particularly interested in is the climatological rainfall amounts for each month for the various sites. Go to: