Spring is on the way, but for the next few days Greater Trail will have to weather the storm, according to a local forecaster.
“Looking back to previous years, it might feel like winter is hanging on a little later,” said Jesse Ellis from the Southeast Fire Centre. “But the snow over the last few days isn’t overly uncommon.”
So far, March has dumped between 10 to 15 centimetres of snow mixed with rain in the region, but over the last 10 years, with the exception of a few years of zero precipitation, 10 to 20 cm has been the norm, he said.
By the weekend, temperatures are expected to rise with wet snow turning to rain, making way for “it starting to feel like spring.”
Most noteworthy has been the unseasonably cold temperatures that carried through from February.
The second month of the year served up record cold temperatures and was drier than normal, but when it snowed, it really snowed.
A blast of Arctic air the first week of the month brought a record cold temperature of -21 C just before sunrise on Feb. 5, breaking a 1996 record low by one half degree, said Ellis.
The freeze held until the following day, when a daily record low of -19.9 was set in the region, prompting Red Mountain Resort to issue a frostbite warning after -27 C was recorded at the top of Granite Mountain accompanied by clear blue skies on Feb. 6.
A third daily low of -13.9 C was set on the morning of Feb. 22 and overall, the true Arctic outbreak lead to a month that was 3.6 C cooler than normal.
Dry conditions accompanied cooler temperatures the majority of February, with overall precipitation 22 per cent of the norm.
Most of the month’s precipitation fell during the last two weeks, when a series of Pacific frontal systems pushed inland from the coast and brought 80 per cent of the February snowfall, or 48 cm compared to the average 34 cm.
Typically, February precipitation is a 50/50 mix of rain and snow, Ellis explained.
“The ratio of snow to rain was weighted so much in snow’s favour that we received above average snowfall accumulations despite precipitation on the whole being less than normal,” he said.
The lack of snow in February may have had the remainder of the ski season in question, however the return of cold wintry conditions the first week of March have already added almost 30 cm to the alpine snow depth at Red Mountain.