Conditions from late last week. Very spring-like on a slope that usually has a couple metres of snow on the ground at this time of year.
Conditions from late last week. Very spring-like on a slope that usually has a couple metres of snow on the ground at this time of year.

If it’s going to be bad, it might as well set a record as the worst ever. It’s sad to only be able to talk about the lack of snow and avalanche conditions on the North Shore this season. At least there is some interesting weather and an El Nino related story to talk about. We keep flipping from a warm and wet weather pattern to a dry and cool pattern. The long range outlook shows this trend continuing. Another ‘Pineapple Express’ system is poised to strike this weekend¬†pushing the snow level way up and dumping a lot of precipitation. We could see most of the remaining North Shore snowpack wash away. Once this system passes we’re back to warm and sunny weather for most of next week. There’s talk of freezing levels exceeding 3000 m!

This is a forecast image for early Saturday morning. It shows a stream of moisture stretching from Hawaii all the way to the South Coast of BC (aka – The Pineapple Express).

It’s very likely that most of the mountains surrounding the Lower Mainland currently have a record low snowpack. Snow data is usually collected at the beginning of every month during the winter. The February 1st data should be pretty grim. The image below shows real-time snow water equivalency for a mountain south of Chiliwack. It’s from a site a little over 1400 m – similar to the summits of the North Shore peaks. I suspect there is only around 50 cm of snow on the ground at this location. By next week this could be reduced by 50%. Will it turn around? You can see on the image that last winter was very similar until early February. Let’s hope that the dark blue line follows the green line and we end up with an average snowpack for spring skiing.

Snowpack levels from a site south of Chiliwack. The short blue line is for this year. The red line is the record low. And the green line was last winter.
Snowpack levels from a site south of Chiliwack. The short blue line is for this year. The red line is the record low. And the green line was last winter.
Worst Start to a Winter Ever?

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