Coming Soon: The Cold Crisis

We're on the verge of coldest air in February since 1989. Does that excite the weather nerd inside you?

One way to analysis the strength of weather abnormalities and extremes is to compare current weather patterns to what is expected this time of year.

I'll warn you, if you suffer from cheimatophobia (fear of cold) you might want to skip this post all together. It's looking nasty. My last post I talked about groundhogs. It might suit you better...

Read on, if you dare...

A quick glance at this, and if you're still with me I'll try and explain. Lighter blues: 9-10C below what you'd expect for early February, while the pinks are closer to 15 degrees below what would be considered 'normal.' At face value, this Arctic air event looks equivalent to the one in early December

A quick glance at this, and if you're still with me I'll try and explain. Lighter blues: 9-10C below what you'd expect for early February, while the pinks are closer to 15 degrees below what would be considered 'normal.' At face value, this Arctic air event looks equivalent to the one in early December

Since this weather event is within 5 days, some details can change, but the deterministic model runs have locked onto this solution for the most part the past couple of days, with fantastic ensemble model support as well. 

On social media, several comparisons have been made to February 1989's Arctic blast; consequently, I want to do a brief little comparison between them.

Feb 1st, 1989 reanalysis

Feb 1st, 1989 reanalysis

CMC Projection for the morning of February 5th 2014. 

CMC Projection for the morning of February 5th 2014. 

A couple key differences between these two events:

  1. Although both show 510 thickness (The thickness between 1000mb and 500mb portion of the atmosphere) through and over the Pacific Ocean, there's a much tighter pressure gradient with the event in Early February 1989, along with a better defined cross-polar flow
  2. The high pressure system over the Yukon is 1989 was also bordering on insanity, with the reanalysis showing a whopping 1064 mb. Regardless, It's been many years since we've had two significant cold air outbreaks in the YVR area. 

Yikes. 

The event in 1989, brought extreme winds and wind chills to the Squamish region (H/T @AlberniWeather). bottoming out at nearly -30C. Unfathomable for a coastal community, which is normally influenced by the Pacific Ocean.  

I teased the mountain resorts last post, by saying it appears likely the ridge, for at least temporarily will disappear after next week -- therefore, with our more seasonal typical troughing in the western Pacific, we'll be seeing countless mega-dumps and powder alerts on our favourite ski hills.

They deserve it. If you don't think they do, look at this recent map of the snowpack drought on Vancouver Island. I assure you, it can't get much worse than this with some watersheds containing less than 10 percent of normal snowpack southern Vancouver Island.

Current Snow Depth.png

I also want to briefly mention a heightened risk of a high impact weather event next weekend. During the transition from cool continental airmass, to a more moist Pacific one, we're going to run into a bit of a snag. 

The potential for a significant heavy snowfall event is there, but there's just too much uncertainty to say much more. Certain deterministic runs (I won't name names or show maps for that matter), are hinting at a very disruptive snowfall event next weekend, so it bears watching. 

Also, it's worth talking about so you're not completely shocked tonight and tomorrow -- you may see the odd light scattered snowfall, especially in Campbell River and Comox, as a week upper level trough passes through the neighbourhood.

Nothing major.

That's all. Cheers!

#50ShadesofVan