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March weather for Chilliwack had its ups and downs, says observer

Extremes for March included record high temperature 22.8°C on March 16, after killing frost March 5
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March weather had its ups and downs. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Chilliwack weather for March 2024 had its ups and downs, but word that snowpack average in B.C. was at 66 per cent of normal on March 1 crystallized provincial concerns.

That snowpack level - the second lowest on record - could have drought implications by summertime.

An arctic air mass from late February persisted into the first week of March, according to Roger Pannett, volunteer weather observer for Environment Climate Change Canada in his March weather report.

”Temperatures remained below normal with convective snow flurries producing snowfall on five days.”

Total snowfall was close to the March average, he noted, the snowiest in five years.

The lowest temperature for the month was on March 4 with a -4.2 C killing frost, which was more than four degrees below normal as the minimum. It was the coldest March temperature in 15 years, but way above the all-time March low of -14.4°C on March 4, 1955.

By mid-month a massive and building ridge of high pressure produced dry, mostly sunny and warm days and a few records. Freezing levels rose to below 3,000 metres with record maximum temperatures throughout B.C, including in Chilliwack. With moisture rotating north, from an Oregon off-shore low pressure system, mild showery conditions returned.

A building ridge of high pressure, near month’s end and over the Easter long weekend, produced a return to warm mostly sunny skies.

Temperature extremes for the month were the record-breaking maximum temperature of 22.8C (11.8C above normal) with a dry 22 per cent relative humidity on March 16, and the -4.2C (4.4C below normal) killing frost on March 5.

With mean temperatures for the month at 1.625C above normal, (standard deviation + or -1.4C) it was the 12th consecutive March with above normal temperatures - a trend never previously observed in the past 129 years of Chilliwack record keeping.

It was also the eleventh consecutive month with above normal temperatures, and for the seventh consecutive March, precipitation was below normal at 50.42 per cent below normal, including snowfall at 16.18 per cent below normal.

“It was the 21st consecutive month with below normal precipitation,” he noted, a trend never previously observed since

1879.

“At month’s end it was disturbing to see, on the BC Wildfire Dashboard website, 101 active wildfires in the province with five new fires in the past 24 hours,” Pannett wrote.

There are 90 active holdover “zombie fires” as they’re called, from the 2023 wildfire season smoldering beneath the winter snow cover.

“Unfortunately, the 2024 BC Wildfire season has ignited early,” Pannett noted.

The 2024 precipitation total to date is 434.8 mm on 55 days compared to the average of 634.6 mm on 54 days.

Records:

March 16 - High min 10.3C (+8.0C above average) 8.5C in 1992 & 2010.

March 16 - High mean 16.55C (+9.85C) 12.2C in 1972.

March 16 - High max 22.8C (+11.8C) 21.7C in 1900.

March 17 - High mean 13.8C (+7.3C) 12.5C in 1914.



Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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