Trail residents woke up to almost 25 centimetres of snow on Jan. 23 and more fell the next day to push the monthly snowfall totals to its highest in over three decades. (Trail Times file photo)

Trail residents woke up to almost 25 centimetres of snow on Jan. 23 and more fell the next day to push the monthly snowfall totals to its highest in over three decades. (Trail Times file photo)

January snowfall highest in 36 years

West Kootenay precipitation amounted to 147 cm, or double the usual mix of rain and snow

January had the greatest amount of snow recorded for the month in 36 years.

Combined with an unusually mild climate, last month also had the most rain on record since 2006.

“January 2018 was unseasonably mild and very eventful as numerous Pacific systems spread frequent, and at times, heavy precipitation across the area,” local forecaster Ron Lakeman reports. “The amounts of precipitation were near double the normal for January.”

Measurable precipitation was recorded 22 of the 31 days, dropping 147 centimetres (cm) of rain and snow combined.

The heaviest mix of wet snow and rain fell during a 48-hour period beginning Jan. 23, as a large Pacific frontal system slowly pushed across southern B.C.

New record daily maximums of 16.8 cm, 24.6 cm, and 26.4 cm fell on Jan. 8, Jan. 23 and Jan. 24 respectively.

Along with being unusually wet, January 2018 temperatures averaged almost 2 C above normal.

“A modified Arctic airmass did provide relatively cold temperatures during the initial four days of the month,” Lakeman said. “A predominant southwesterly flow resulted in near to milder than normal temperatures during the remainder of the month.”

The coldest day was – 9 C the early morning of Jan. 2.

Lakeman’s month-end summary notes January 1974 as having the warmest day on record for the month, that year the temperature rose to 10 C on Jan. 16. This past month the warmest day was 7.3 C, recorded Jan. 18.

The coldest day ever recorded in January dates back 39 years. Jan. 1, 1979 began with at a frigid -26 C.

Lakeman says forecasters expect the La Nina influence to continue, with the next two months continuing cool and wet.

“Spring should be later versus early to arrive,”he says. “We have the potential to be on the cooler side of normal, and have an ‘eventful’ February and March.

Meanwhile on Feb. 2, Canada’s famous forecasting groundhogs had differing opinions on whether the country will be in for an early spring or continuing frigid temperatures.

In Ontario, Wiarton Willie called for six more weeks of winter, but Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam expects a quicker onset of warmer weather.

According to long-standing legend, a groundhog who sees his shadow after emerging from his den predicts that another six weeks of winter are on the way. One who does not is purported to be forecasting an early end to the cold season.

In Wiarton, Ont., the latest incarnation of Willie saw his shadow as he came out of his den on Friday, bringing bad news for those weary of frosty conditions.

South of the border, the handlers of Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog, said he too was calling for six more weeks of winter.

Thousands of people gathered overnight to await the forecast, bundled up against the cold and entertained by folk music and a fireworks display, with temperatures around -12 C.

With files from Canadian Press