I don’t need to spend too much time discussing snow conditions on the North Shore Mountains. If you’ve looked up at the mountains from town then you know there’s simply no snow. In fact, the February 1st snow samples show that the North Shore has the lowest snowpack (10-20 cm where measured) since records began (1936 for one station). It’s the first winter I can remember driving to the top of Cypress and there being no snow in sight.
The question is, will it get any better or is ‘winter’ done? Personally, I don’t think it will matter if the snow returns. Many of us have written off the season and moved on to other forms of recreation or headed to the Interior to find decent snow. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at what the Climate Prediction Models suggest for the remainder of the winter.
The image above shows what weather models are predicting for the Vancouver area for the next couple weeks. The most obvious trends are the lack of precipitation throughout the period and the high confidence in sunny skies around Feb. 15-18. I’m guessing we will see a ridge of high pressure form near the end of the coming weekend. So, in the short term it doesn’t look like we will see much snow if any at all.
The next image shows the probabilities of temperatures being below, average, or above normal for February, March and April. The trend has been very much the same for the first half of the season. There’s a higher likelihood of above normal temperatures the closer you get to the coast. This explains why it’s really right on the coast where the mountains have suffered the most. We’ve had precipitation, it’s it’s just been way too warm for snow in most places.
For precipitation I’m looking at the American ensemble model. The brown bubble over Washington and Southwest BC indicates a good chance of below normal precipitation. The Canadian model is similar but the graphics aren’t as easy to follow.
So, to answer the question… It looks like the long Fall will run into an early Spring and we might miss winter all together. On a positive note, it’s been a great endless mountain biking season. There’s always next year for skiing, and if you bought new skis they will probably still be new and shiny for one more year – unless you tried skiing locally this winter.