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COLUMN: Spring weather finally here after record-breaking chill

Rod Chilton has been a climatologist for 40 years
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Lt.-Cmdr. Michael Irwin was unable to be the guard commander at the opening of the legislature this week due to the snow, but that didn’t stop him (and his dog, Xena) from running through the drill. (Facebook/ Karen Hough)

We in the Greater Victoria area have just come through the second coldest February on record since weather records have been measured. The just over 100 years of climate statistics, utilizing both the Victoria airport weather station for the years since 1941, and the Victoria Gonzales records for the 25 years prior, indicates that only February 1936 was colder. Whereas, the average of the minimum and the maximum temperatures, or mean temperature, was + 1.1 degrees Celsius this past month, February 1936 is estimated as having a value of – 1.1 degrees Celsius.

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Rather than it being extremely cold for a short interval or two, it was only moderately cold from the Feb 2 to 28. The coldest temperature observed temperature for the month was minus 7.2 degrees Celsius on the 14th of the month. This was far from the coldest February day ever, of -15 degrees Celsius recorded in February 1950. And overall, the average temperature was 4.0 degrees Celsius cooler than the long-term 30 year average.

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Probably having more impact on most of us in the Greater Victoria area, was the very heavy snowfall primarily experienced in the central and northern portions of the region. The Victoria airport site recorded an overall 68.3 cm of snow for the month. However, even more impressive in this same region, was the greatest daily snow depth measured on the ground on Feb. 11 of 47 cm. Neither the monthly snowfall total, nor the snow as measured on the ground, have been exceeded in any other February since snow measurements began at the Airport in 1941.

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However, if the months of December and January were to be considered in the analysis, well that is an altogether different story. Many will no doubt remember the 1996 December snow event, this in the late portions of that month, when huge amounts of snowfall resulted in very large on the ground snow totals, that reached totals as much as 70 to as much as 98 cms, depending upon where you resided in the city.

Rod Chilton, climatologist and author of “Victoria’s Varied Weather” has been a climatologist for the past 40 years, both employed as a provincial government employee and later as a private consultant.