Question submitted by Peter
Question: Given the mix of latitude, frontal systems, water and mountains, and a shifting winter freezing level, I would guess Vancouver and region is about the hardest place I know to predict the weather reliably.
Is this true, and are there any other populated areas of Canada that are as hard or harder to forecast?
Peter, oh how I wish that were true! Actually nearly every city in Canada has its own set of forecasting difficulties! I would have to be honest and say that Calgary, AB is possibly the most frustrating place to forecast for. Knowing that a strong Chinook wind can raise temperatures suddenly and dramatically is not enough, a forecaster has to determine if and when and to what degree the Chinook will blow, or watch the forecast high be missed by 10-15 degrees! Whitehorse is another nightmarishly hard place to get right, especially in the Spring & Fall when arctic air can settle down the valley and create widespread fog. Oh and Ottawa, being also in a valley, can see its forecast high missed by 10 degrees if the wind isn't strong enough to scour the cold air out the valley.
Now forecasting for Vancouver does have its challenges too! We live so close to the ocean that the influence of that body of water is almost as big as the incoming weather systems!!
Let's say this job keep me on my toes and has taught me humility!