November in West Kootenay saw only third of normal precipitation

Stalled weather system lingered over region

November in the West Kootenay was mostly a tale of slow-moving weather systems and some unremarkable, dry weather.

That’s the summary being offered by the Southeast Fire Centre for last month’s weather.

“It was unusually dry, due to a prevailing, moisture-starved northwesterly flow,” says Jesse Ellis, a forecaster with the Southeast Fire Centre. “It’s a stalled upper-ridge upstream.”

The ridge of high pressure stalled near the B.C. coast for the first third of a month, helping keep a dry northwesterly flow in place over the area.

The first significant snowfall of the year arrived on the 12th. It started off as a few minor sprinkles of rain in the morning that soon turned to snow due to a combination of a dry airmass in the valley and increasing precipitation rates.

However, the snow was fairly wet and short-lived as afternoon temperatures came up to around 3 C.

Eighty-five per cent of the month’s total precipitation fell as rain between the 15 to 19th, as a series of Pacific frontal systems passed over the West Kootenay.

Temperatures during this stretch peaked between 5 and 7 C each day with overnight lows generally above 3 C.

A drier upper flow (predominantly out of the northwest) regained control for the majority of the rest of the month.

A modified Arctic airmass pushed into the area from the north and east towards the end of the month, partially helped out by a deep low-pressure centre south of the U.S. border. This pattern brought the greatest winds (gusting above 40 km/h) and the lowest temperature of the month (-8.4 degrees C) on the 29th. The record low temperature for November is -20.2 C.

The prevailing dry upper flow resulted in significantly lower than normal precipitation: total amounts came in at only 32 per cent of normal. Rainfall was 54 per cent below average and snowfall was 11 per cent of normal.

But even that’s not unusual this time of year. Records show that 80 per cent of the time there’s no snow or just a trace on the ground by the first week of December.

No temperature or precipitation records were broken this month. The mean monthly temperature was a half degree warmer than average.

Not much change is expected over the next few days, with precipitation — most likely falling as rain — in the valley bottoms, and snow in the passes on the weekend.

Get ready for that to change in the coming weeks — though Ellis is making no predictions yet about a white Christmas.

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