Mild winter expected in Greater Trail

The very cold November in Greater Trail doesn't mean the rest of winter is going to be one big brrrr.

The very cold November in Greater Trail doesn’t mean the rest of winter is going to be one big brrrr.

According to local weatherman Jesse Ellis, an El Niño phenomenon will most likely bring warmer than normal temperatures for the remainder of the season.

“In terms of a long term forecast for the winter, we are in a weak El Niño year,” he explained. “The general idea is for near or slightly above average temperatures and freezing levels a little higher than usual.”

There’s about a 60 per cent chance that the warm phase will bring milder than average temperatures, he continued, which means on the flip side there’s still room for snow and frigid days ahead.

“It’s a large scale global pattern that nudges us one way or the other,” Ellis noted. “But here in the Kootenays, other short term systems have the most impact on us.”

Such as the series of Pacific systems, expected to move into the area by Thursday, bringing flurries and up to five centimetres of snow by Saturday.

“That’s the way things are playing out,” he said. “We could see snow levels rising above the valley floor by Sunday and with that, temperatures gradually turning milder.”

Snow is expected to turn to rain by Monday, he added.

Looking back over the month of November, Arctic air masses twice blew into the Greater Trail area, bringing a freeze that once settled into the valley, broke four daily record lows.

Overall, the temperature average was about one degree less than normal for the 11th month of the year. New record lows include -10.7 C on Nov. 12, -10.4 C Nov 16, -10 C Nov. 17 and -8.4 C on Nov. 18.

The coldest day was -11 C on the night of the Nov 30.

“The temperature peaked near 10 degrees on the 28th in advance of a cold front that blew through town in the afternoon,” said Ellis. “That was followed closely by a second Arctic outbreak that maintained cold temperatures to the end of the month.”

A total of 58 millimetres (mm) of rain fell during the first week of November, and by Nov. 30 about 38 mm of snow was recorded, which is on course with the average precipitation for the month.

As ski season at Red Mountain Resort inches toward opening day on Dec. 13, the hill’s snow report shows 27 cm of snowfall in the last seven days, adding to a total snowfall of 117 cm since Oct. 1 and a current alpine snow depth of 60 cm.

Those numbers are down slightly from last year, when a Dec. 4 report outlined a total snowfall of almost 132 cm and an alpine depth of 92 cm.