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New record low for West Kootenay set in February

The thermometer dipped below minus-21 on February 5, resulting in scenes like this at Ainsworth — an open water pipe that froze over, seemingly in mid-flow. - Mike Thompson photo
The thermometer dipped below minus-21 on February 5, resulting in scenes like this at Ainsworth — an open water pipe that froze over, seemingly in mid-flow.
— image credit: Mike Thompson photo

Last month's weather can pretty much be summed up in one word: brrr!

According to the weather services office at the Southeast Fire Centre in Castlegar, the all-time record low for the month was established just before sunrise on the morning of the 5th: a bone-chilling minus-21.5.

That broke the old record set in 1996 by half a degree.

In their monthly roundup of statistics, weather specialists Jesse Ellis and Ron Lakeman said a cold and dry Arctic airmass supported by northerly and northeasterly flows was responsible.

A similar situation helped break a daily record low temperature the following day with an early morning temperature of minus-19.9. A third record daily low temperature of minus-13.9 was set on the morning of the 22nd. This time it was more the result of a prolonged period of clear skies between relatively weak Pacific systems the night before, rather than due to a particularly cold airmass.

Overall, the average monthly temperature was minus-3.9, which was 3.6 degrees cooler than normal. The highest temperature of the month was 9.3 degrees on the 13th. The all-time record high for February is 14.3 degrees in 2010.

All of the significant precipitation fell over a 15-day period starting on the 9th as a series of Pacific frontal systems pushed inland from the south coast.

Given the temperatures, Ellis and Lakeman said it wasn't surprising that over 80 per cent of the precipitation fell as snow — a more typical February ratio is 50-50. Cooler than normal temperatures also led to 44 per cent more snow than average, even though total precipitation was 22 per cent less than average.

"In other words, the ratio of snow to rain was weighted so much in snow's favour that we received above average snowfall accumulations despite precipitation on the whole being less than normal," the forecasters wrote.

Whitewater Ski Resort received 137 centimeters of snow last month, highlighted by 22 cm on the 17th and 26 cm on the 19th. Four other days saw 10 cm or more and at least some snow was recorded on 18 of the 28 days, with the longest drought between the 4th and 7th.

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