On Sunday, Nov. 29, it became official: The city of Vancouver went an entire year without seeing any snow at all. Doesn’t that absolutely blow your mind? It should, because that hasn’t happened in last 25 years.
According to readings taken at Vancouver International Airport, there has been no accumulation of snow since November 2014.
Meanwhile across the water, the city of Victoria is seeing even less snow than Vancouver. Snow hasn’t accumulated there in well over 640 days, or a year and three-quarters. Meteorologists in the province are referring to this phenomenon as a snow drought. Clearly people outside of British Columbia are experiencing a little bit of envy right now, particularly in the Maritimes, which seems to get dumped on with mountains of snow each and every year.
The real question is what is it about Vancouver that’s behind this phenomenon? Why is it that Mother Nature is so kind to the city, consistently providing it with mild winters? It has to do with the warm provided by the Pacific Ocean, particularly during an El Niño event, which is the case this year. El Nino is a scientific phenomenon where warmer water from South America pushes its way through the Pacific Ocean. It means a warmer winter for most of Canada, but especially Vancouver since it’s so close to the ocean already.
All of that means that much of the weather that would’ve equated to snow days in Vancouver in years past will simply express themselves as rainy days this time around. It’s a far cry from December 28, 1996, when 80cm of the white stuff fell in Victoria, and over the course of a few days, 100cm fell throughout Vancouver and Fraser Valley. It was one of the snowiest stretches of time in Canadian history for any city or province.
Those from the West Coast may be tempted to point and laugh at the rest of Canada, but substituting snow for rain isn’t exactly good for the entire province of British Columbia. The rain has pretty much wiped out an entire season worth of skiing in the North Shore Mountains. Thanks to El Niño and the Pacific Ocean, it looks like skiing enthusiasts may have to trade in their skis for rain coats until further notice.