WATCH: This past February was almost the warmest February on record in Vancouver. It fell just short of matching the record set nearly 60 years ago. John Hua reports.
It seems every February brings scenes of people in Metro Vancouver playing golf, watching flowers bloom and playing beach volleyball…while the rest of Canada suffers through week after week of freezing temperatures.
This year the stereotype may have reached a new level.
While Montreal and Toronto had their coldest February ever, and much of Ontario and Atlantic Canada were covered in a deep freeze for weeks, Vancouverites were using their ski hills to play disc golf.
But was it the best February ever? We looked back at 50 years of Environment Canada data to try and find out.
Warm, but not record-setting
Vancouver had an average daily high of 10.7 C. That may sound enviously warm to most Canadians, but it’s not record setting: the average high was 11.8 C in 1992. And just five years ago Vancouver had an average high of 10.6 C.
The average temperature of 7.5 degrees was also close to the all-time record, but not #1. That belongs to 1958, which had an average of 7.6.
Of course, what made last month unusually pleasant weather-wise wasn’t just the warm temperatures – it was the lack of rain in the second half.
“Really, really interesting month,” said Environment Canada meteorologist David Jones. “It rained on each and every of the first 10 days of this month. And then spring arrived…it’s really a tale of two halves, which makes that temperature record all the more interesting.”
Most “nice days” since 1970
Let’s define a “nice day” in the winter, in Vancouver, as any day with no rain and a high over 10 degrees. You might think that’s common, but Vancouver hadn’t experienced one since 2011.
This year there were 10.
“What we’re seeing right now is high pressure which has been our dominating feature this winter,” says Global BC’s Kate Gajdosik. “As a result of that feature, we’ve seen a lot more warm air filter north. The ridge has weakened from time to time, which is when we’ve seen precipitation increase, but in general it’s been unseasonably warm.”
As the graphs show, there’s no real trend when it comes to type of weather Vancouver will have in February.
“It’s cyclical,” says Gajdosik, who says she’s also heard theories about a ‘blob’ of warm water in the ocean waters contributing to the weather.
“Is it global warming? Perhaps. Is it happening at the rapid rate? No. Weather patterns are variable and they’ll continue to be variable.”
“This is not the new average, this is not the new normal. This might be the normal in 2070, but it’s not in 2015.”
And there’s no guarantee the warm weather will last.
“The weather is always quite variable,” says Jones. “We’ve had snow in Vancouver on May 6. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch…because we’ve got this momentum of weather doesn’t mean it’s going to stay.”
Record-breaking or not, two things are certain: Most people in Vancouver are pleased with how the month turned out – and the rest of Canada is probably tired of hearing about it.