Yes, it has been raining a lot this month.
The fact is, by 8 a.m. Thursday, this October is already the wettest on record since 1967 – and there’s still 10 more rainy days to go.
First, a new daily record was set on Oct. 13 when 51.8 millimetres (mm) fell in a relatively short period of time.
Since then, rainfall has amassed to 132 mm, breaking the October monthly record of 129 mm set almost a half century ago.
“The one day total on the 13th set the stage for everything else to accumulate on top and surpass the record,” says Ron Lakeman from the Castlegar weather office. “There are a couple of systems expected to move through so there is a 40 per cent chance of showers … right now as far as Trail being concerned, there is a greater chance of showers Friday and mainly cloudy with a little rain at times (this weekend).”
Heavy showers are forecast to resume early next week.
So far, October temperatures have remained in the normal range and no snow has fallen at lower elevations.
Higher up is a different story.
Thursday morning web cams on the Kootenay Pass as well as the Paulson and Strawberry passes, showed white, and a lot of it.
Emcon’s Ken Lawson says snowplows had been out all night clearing and sanding roads to the Paulson Summit and through the highway toward Rossland – a crew foreman measured nine centimetres of snow on the Strawberry Pass early in the day.
“We’ve had a few light snowfalls up there already, this is the heaviest,” Lawson, Emcon’s division manager, told the Trail Times. “We had trucks up all night, we had compact for a bit over the Paulson Summit, now there’s wet heavy snow and slush.”
He says the freezing level was forecast to rise above 2,000 metres Thursday afternoon.
“Which will clear even the Kootenay Pass,” he added. “We are in winter shift now and have trucks out pretty much 24/7, the snow is a little earlier but we are ready, we usually count on it to start by Oct. 15.”
So what kind of winter is the West Kootenay in for?
According to Lakeman, earlier predictions of a cold and long winter have pretty much been thrown out the window, that is until Wednesday this week.
What began as a “La Niña” forecast in early fall, meaning colder than usual, shifted back to a milder “El Niño,” or what Lakeman calls, “La Neutral.”
“There was great speculation early on with the La Niña developing that is was going to be on the cooler side of normal, though it’s difficult to say as far as precipitation with La Niña,” he explained. “But the bottom line, is the prediction for La Niña was downgraded, but as of yesterday, it’s back and has influence as we go through fall.”
He said the impact is still very borderline, winter could go either way.
“I might be a bit more seasonal which would bode better for the skiers if that (latest update) is correct.”
The sea’s surface temperature, also referred to as Pacific Decadal Oscillation, is warmer than usual and that affects recurring patterns of climate like El Niño.
“So we still have a warm body of water out there and commonly that will result in milder temperatures,” Lakeman said. “That has more influence on the coast, but I am inching toward something on the milder side again … so if we take the same pattern we have right now and go into December and January, the snow level would be relatively high (elevation), the temperatures in the valleys would be mild and we would be transitioning rain and snow,” he concluded. “It’s difficult to say especially this year more than the last two years as to how winter is going to play out, but it’s now kind of trending toward something mild.”