Blasts of Arctic air brought coldest October in decades to parts of Vancouver Island

A surge of cool Arctic air forced down temperatures in Greater Victoria and much of Vancouver Island during most of October.

No significant records were broken, but the temperatures at Victoria International Airport make it the coldest on average since 1984 and the fifth coldest since 1941, when records were first recorded.

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The average temperature at the airport was 8.7 C, compared with a historical average of 10 C.

“It’s coldest since 1984, so it’s definitely noteworthy,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald on Friday.

At Gonzales weather station, conditions were a little warmer, MacDonald said, but still colder than normal — 9.7 C versus a historical October average of 10.9 C.

Gonzales records go back further than those for the airport, to 1889.

For Gonzales, October was the 10th coldest on record.

MacDonald said during the first two weeks of October and the final week, cold, dry Arctic air was being pushed southward down the interior of B.C., then looped out to the coast and onto Vancouver Island.

He said Abbotsford, Penticton and Cranbrook also experienced colder Octobers than statistically expected.

This beginning and end-of-the month dry Arctic influence meant most of the rainfall, up to two-thirds recorded for October, occurred between Oct. 15 and 21, a period of active storm patterns.

“We saw system after system crossing the Island,” said MacDonald. “It was kind of relentless.”

Overall, rainfall varied across southern Vancouver Island.

The airport collected 75 millimetres of rain, compared with a monthly average of 88. Gonzales was a little wetter than normal, with 67.2 mm versus a recorded average of 51.2.

Even typically wet Tofino was a little drier than average, picking up only 296 mm of rain versus the long-term October average of 342 mm. Tofino was cooler than normal, with an average October temperature of 9.1 C versus a historical average of 10 C.

MacDonald said the current sunny, dry spell is likely to remain until Thursday and Friday.

After that, meteorologists are pointing to a return of typical November weather, when rainfall typically leaps from October’s average of 88 mm to November’s 152 mm.

“It’s important to note November is typically the wettest month of the year for Victoria,” said MacDonald.

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