While Metro Vancouver saw a great deal of snow this February, the snowfall wasn’t the most exceptional component of last month’s weather.
In fact, February 2019 was the coldest February on record in Metro Vancouver since the records began in 1937. Not only did the month see some frigid temperatures, but they also persisted throughout the month.
Vancouver Is Awesome spoke to Matt MacDonald, Meteorologist, Environment Canada, who explained just how the chilly the month was.
“We typically see around seven days in the double digits during the month of February,” he described. “We didn’t have a single day above 10 degrees this month.”
MacDonald also noted that the month usually sees about nine nights below zero degrees, but that this month had a whopping 22 nights below zero degrees.
“February’s average was 0.4 degrees, which makes it the coldest month on record at YVR. Previously, 1989 held the record with 0.8 degrees. Prior to that the coldest year was 1949 with 1.1 degrees.”
MacDonald added that the average temperature for February is 4.9 degrees, which is markedly warmer.
“We saw an interesting weather pattern this month. Three or four arctic fronts pushed down into the region, which we don’t typically see. As a result, we’ve had persistently frigid temperatures – it wasn’t just a few cold days.”
MacDonald adds that another arctic front will move into the region this weekend, which will bring more glacial weather with it. He notes that the chilly temperatures should persist until March 10 or March 11. However, he expects that temperatures should warm up following this.
Although February saw the coldest temperatures to date, it also saw some of the greatest amounts of snowfall. In fact, 31.2 cm of snowfall was recorded at YVR, making it the eighth snowiest February on record.
The snowiest February on record was in 1949 with 60.7 cm, followed by 1937 with 50.8 cm. Following this, 1990 had the third most snowfall with 45.4 cm.
Courtesy of vancouverisawesome.com
Daytime temperature -24C combined with 30cm of snow has been reported at Ottawa Airport making this the coldest snowstorm in more than 100 years!
Cold and snowstorms do typically go hand in hand, and while it can’t actually be ‘too cold to snow’*, heavy snow is much harder to generate the lower the temperature drops. By the time you get into the -20s and -30s Celsius, heavy snow is fairly uncommon, but that’s not because it’s too cold; rather, it’s because the air is too dry. The amount of water vapour the air can hold decreases as the temperature goes down; so the colder it gets, the less moisture there is available to make snow. That’s also why you tend to see smaller snowflakes in colder weather, rather than big clumpy ones.