Is This Weather Normal? – March 2019

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The weather in Terrace, BC in March 2019 was abnormally dry. The main weather stories discussed below in more detail are . . .

  • March temperature was about a degree warmer than average
  • March 2019 was the 4th driest on record
  • Total February-March 2019 precipitation set a record low

Temperature:

March was the 27th warmest on record, averaging +3.1°C, which is 0.8°C warmer than the 1971-2000 baseline climate. Temperatures stayed abnormally cold during the first weeks of March (continuing from the cold February), but a change mid-month led to higher than average temperatures for the second half of the month (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Daily average temperature for March 2019 in Terrace, BC (dotted red line). The solid red line shows January-February 2019 temperature. The black line shows the 1971-2000 average. The two gray lines show plus/minus one standard deviation.

The average monthly temperatures through March show the warmer than average January, colder than average February, and warmer than average March (Fig. 2).

Figure 2: 2019 average monthly temperature for Terrace, BC through March. The dotted blue curve is 2019, the 10 red lines are the ten warmest years on record, every other year is in gray. The black line is the long-term average, and the error bars mark plus/minus one standard deviation.

Precipitation:

The main weather story for March 2019 is the lack of precipitation. March 2019 was the 4th driest on record, totaling 30mm, 33% of normal (90mm). Cumulatively for the year, precipitation is now 63% of normal, with 237mm of precipitation compared to an average of 376mm. Snowfall to date is 55% of normal, and rainfall to date is 65% of normal (Fig. 3).

Figure 3: Cumulative precipitation – where total precipitation (green), rain (dark blue), and snow (light blue) are added throughout the year. Solid lines show the 1971-2000 average. Dotted lines show the 2019 totals to date.

March precipitation only tells part of the story of recent dry conditions in Terrace, BC and the larger region. When combined, February-March 2019 precipitation set a record low, with only 41mm of precipitation, 20% of the average of 203mm (Fig. 4).

Figure 4: 1913-2019 total precipitation for the months of February and March. The long-term average is in black and dashed. There are two years of missing data (1919 and 1955).

This winter dry spell follows the driest July-October on record – continuing the drought in northwest BC and southeast Alaska.

Links:

Drought in Alaska (Drought.gov)

In Southeast, Alaska is seeing its first extreme drought ever recorded, climatologists say (Anchorage Daily News)

BC Drought Map (BC Government)

BC snowpacks near 40-year lows prompting drought fears (Global News)

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