In like a lion, out like a, well, lion.
March broke a 47-year-old record for total precipitation, delivering 145.6 millimetres of total precipitation to record the highest amount ever, or 237 per cent of the normal amount.
With 21 days of measurable precipitation — a mere 10 days without moisture — and 52.2 centimetres of snow (353 per cent of normal), it was a March unlike no other.
The first part of the month was relatively dry, said Jesse Ellis at the Southeast Fire Centre in Castlegar, the region’s weather information service provider, due in part to a high pressure area positioned over the West Kootenay.
However, when that moved out the weather turned ugly as a much more active pattern took control for the rest of the month, delivering one Pacific frontal system after another, bringing snow or rain, and often both, said Ellis.
“It was the wettest March we have on record,” he said.
The snowfall was the second most on record (58.9 cm. in 1971), deluging Red Mountain with 218 cm. of the white stuff, 36 cm. more than the 182 cm. the mountain had last March, and significantly more than the 69.5 cm. falling in 2010.
But with temperatures well within normal ranges — a maximum of 12.3 degrees and a low of -7.6 degrees — it was puzzling as to why there was so much precipitation, said Ellis.
“The El Nino and La Nina weather patterns aren’t so much of an indicator for precipitation amounts, they are more an indicator of what temperature to expect,” he said.
He pointed to a global pattern taking place, called the Pacific decadal oscillation, similar to the La Nina, as a likely culprit. Pacific decadal oscillation is on an inter-decadal time scale (usually about 20 to 30 years) and shifts climate variability.
American weather predictors are forecasting a wetter and cooler than average spring, but Canadian models are saying April will see normal precipitation and milder than average temperatures.