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March cooler, drier than normal in West Kootenay

The Southeast Fire Centre says March was another month with cooler and driver than average conditions in the West Kootenay.

Weather specialist Jesse Ellis says we only received two-thirds of the normal amount of precipitation with 41.8 millimeters, as recorded at the Castlegar airport. That was made up of 38 mm of rain, which is 76 per cent of usual and 5.2 centimeters of snow, which is 39 per cent of usual.

The mean temperature for the month was four degrees, compared to the typical 4.4. The highest temperature of the month was 16.8 degrees on the 29th and the lowest was –10 on the 10th. The record high for March, since the mid-1960s, is 23.1 on March 30, 2004 and the record low –18.1 on March 3, 2019.

Ellis says the cooler than average mean temperature is often reported during late winter and early spring months in the West Kootenay during a La Nina phase.

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He adds about ten Pacific frontal systems passed over the area during the month and while the total precipitation was lower than normal, the total number of days with rain or snow (15) was exactly the norm.

“So it just happened to be in this case, the storms that did make it into the West Kootenay were packing a little less moisture than they otherwise would in a normal year,” he says.

One other observation he made was that the snow depth at the start of the month was about 30 centimeters (whereas the average for March 1 is closer to 20 centimeters) and it melted off by around the 13th. Five of the last 10 years had snow holding on longer into the month, with the other five saw it melt sooner.

No temperature, precipitation, or wind records broken last month.

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