El Niño serves up wet and mild March

The swing from warm and dry to wet and cool on Monday is just a blip on the radar, more sunshine is on the way, says a local forecaster.

The swing from warm and dry to wet and cool on Monday is just a blip on the radar, more sunshine is on the way, says a local forecaster.

“We’ve got this active little system going through today (Monday),” explained Chris Cowan from the Castlegar weather office. “It looks like it will settle down, and it’s going to take a day or two, but by Thursday or Friday…we are going to get back to the conditions we had over weekend.”

Near record breaking temperatures that began Friday, were preceded by a very wet and mild March.

The old adage “in like a lion out like a lamb” is particularly fitting this year because March 31 was the warmest day of the month, 20.4 C, matching a previous daily maximum set in 1995.

Overall, the month was 1.5 C milder than normal with the mean set at 5.9 C compared to the usual 4.4 C. Along with the warm conditions came twice the precipitation, which is typical for a late winter-spring El Niño.

Cowan pointed out the average mix of rain and snow for March measures 63 millimetres (mm), but this year, 120 mm was recorded at the Castlegar weather station. A near constant stream of Pacific moisture prevailed during the first two weeks of March, with only one day that precipitation did not fall. March 9 was the wettest day when slush and rain amounted to 24 mm.

“The initial half of the month was very eventful,” said Cowan. “The amount of snow was more than double the normal for March but the majority of it melted on contact,” he added. “The only two mornings in which there was any measurable snow on the ground were March 2 and March 10.”

The second half of the month remained unsettled with light precipitation until the last three days when a ridge of high pressure brought mainly sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures.