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December saw huge swing in temperatures

The difference between the warmest and coldest temperature last month in Castlegar was 33 degrees, according to statistics from the Southeast Fire Centre’s weather office.

A new all-time record high temperature for the month was set on Dec. 1 when it hit 14.6 degrees.

“The previous record was about two degrees lower set in 1996, so this is a significant new temperature record,” weather specialist Jesse Ellis says. “It happened in a warm southwesterly flow ahead of an approaching frontal system.”

The month finished with temperatures that didn’t quite break records but were still pretty chilly: it got down to -18.9 on the morning of the 31st.

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“We had an upper ridge over the Pacific and an upper trough over western North America that were the most significant features in the northern hemisphere when you look at the departure from normal in terms of their strength,” Ellis says.

“That’s the pattern. It was the northerly or northwesterly flow between that offshore ridge and the trough over the mainland that encouraged cold Arctic air to push southward down over the interior of BC and giving us those strong winds toward the end of the month and the cold temperatures as well.”

Overall precipitation was only 78 per cent of normal. However, with cooler than average temperatures, we saw more snow than normal at the expense of rain. The total snowfall of 90.6 cm was 40 per cent more than average, whereas the total rainfall of 2.8 mm was only nine per cent of normal.

“In the West Kootenay we usually see the storm cycle start off as snow and end as rain,” Ellis says. “This month that happened either much less frequently, rather than a 50-50 mix which we sometimes see.”

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