Record-setting warmth heralds arrival of spring

Summer-like temperatures on Tuesday smashed records, with the promise of more to come as the first day of spring arrives Wednesday.

The temperature reached 20 C in the afternoon at Victoria International Airport, breaking a record of 17 C for that day in 1979, while the School-Based Weather Station Network showed temperatures at Millstream and Craigflower elementaries reached an even warmer 23.2 C.

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They were outpaced by usually chilly Tofino, however, which Environment Canada tweeted was Canada’s hot spot on Tuesday afternoon at 23.5 C. It was later surpassed by Abbotsford Airport at 24.4 C.

“We’re into a very above-normal temperature regime right now, but it does look like for the weekend there are some showers,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Carmen Hartt. “Temperatures will moderate somewhat with that.”

She said daily highs in March tend to be around 11 C.

The forecast high for Wednesday and Thursday is 16 C in Greater Victoria.

“It’s going to feel very warm, especially compared to what we had at the beginning of March and in February,” Hartt said.

Monday also set temperature records at both Gonzales Point and Victoria Harbour. Gonzales hit 18.8 C, beating the previous record of 17.2 set in 1914, while the harbour outpaced the 2016 record of 14.6 with a reading of 17.1.

Hart said there were 26 records set in B.C. on Monday.

Temperatures to beat Wednesday include 14.4 at the harbour and 19.4 at the airport.

Other than the weather, signs of the season range from crowds seeking soft ice-cream cones at Beacon Drive-In to last week’s Flower Count and Victoria Harbour Ferry boats zipping across the Inner Harbour. The ferries have actually been plying their routes since Feb. 22.

“It’s funny — people come down and say: ‘Oh, spring has started — the habour ferries are on the water,” said Barry Hobbis, Victoria Harbour Ferry’s vice-president of operations.

But he said the company never waits for the equinox before getting to work.

“We are the calendar,” he quipped.

The fleet is made up of 18 boats that carry an estimated 400,000 passengers each year.

“This is our 30th year of business and we’re, I think, blessed because we really are iconic,” Hobbis said.

Another longtime local marker for this time of year is the Beacon Drive-In, which is already seeing big crowds — helped by spring break and sunny skies.

“We’re really busy — there’s lineups right now,” staff member Christy Lee said Tuesday.

On brisk days, Beacon Drive-In dishes out up to 1,000 cones.

Springtime also brings people to Fisherman’s Wharf, which is filled with shops, food outlets and tour businesses.

Peter Gregg of The Fish Store, which opened its doors for the year on Feb. 1, said business at the wharf has been going at a steady clip.

“It’s all about the weather,” he said. “The weekend was pretty good.”

Weather is also a big deal for farmers such as Ryan Vantreight of Longview Farms, where a sudden cold, snowy snap in February killed or rendered unsaleable a chunk of the daffodil crop. Now it’s too warm, he said, which causes the daffodils — typically sold in bud form — to begin to bloom too early

“It’s gone from one direction to the other.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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