A snowfall advisory for southern B.C. in October is almost unheard of in any regular year, but it feels on brand for 2020.
On Friday, October 23, drivers on Vancouver Island highways have been warned to be cautious as snowfall is expected to accumulate on higher elevations.
This unseasonable weather is a result of an arctic air mass combined with the onset of precipitation, and while the snow will abate later this evening, the chill will last into the weekend.
“In Victoria, we’re going to come quite close to near-record cold temperatures Saturday morning,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan, in a phone interview with Victoria Buzz.
“The snow that’s going to happen is all going to be at elevation, so it’s not going to be on the ground in Campbell River, Comox, Victoria, and Nanaimo. But what we’re expecting to see are tricky driving conditions on the highways.”
Specifically, drivers are advised to proceed with caution on Highway 19 between Campbell River and Port Hardy, Highway 28 to Gold River, and Highway 4 between Coombs and Port Alberni.
“Snowfall at this time of year is also excessively rare. There’s only been one date of all time where we saw 4.6 cm of accumulation … we generally see these events in December, January, and February.” said Castellan.
The authority predicted about 2 to 4 cm of snow at higher elevations Friday, while ski resorts on the island could get up to 10 cm.
Temperatures in Victoria are expected to drop to 1ºC overnight on Saturday.
According to Castellan, the coldest temperature ever recorded on an October 24 in Victoria was back in 1956, when the airport recorded 0ºC lows. Any fluctuation in temperatures this Saturday that result in a dip below 0ºC would spell a new record for the region.
Overall, Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend will see temperatures drop about 5 to 8 degrees below seasonal averages in Victoria.
But there’s good news for those who hope to thaw before diving into real winter weather.
Castellan says temperatures are expected to rebound to normal conditions next week — about 9 to 13 degree day time highs — and stay that way for at least two weeks.
Once we reach end of November, early December territory, however, the island must brace for a colder winter than usual.
“We are, generally speaking, expecting to see colder conditions [this winter], and that just stacks the deck for low elevation snow events in places like Nanaimo and Victoria.,” said Castellan.
“By the time we get to meteorological winter, we can expect cooler than average temperatures for about three months.”
The colder weather is attributed to a strong La Niña weather pattern this year, which accounts for disruptions to regular weather conditions.