When a high is a new low: 10.3 C at airport on May 15

Crops are weeks behind schedule, gardeners are waiting to plant until the sun comes out and winter jackets are still out in force.

On Monday, when temperatures reached 10.3 C, a new mark was set for the lowest May 15 daytime high, beating out the previous record of 10.6 C in 1965. That’s based on the temperature at the Victoria International Airport weather station, where Environment Canada has been collecting data since 1941.

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It wasn’t a record at all weather stations, however, as the Gonzales, Victoria Harbour and University of Victoria weather stations dipped to 8.3 C on May 15, 1984, compared with 10.4 C on Monday.

Cindy Yu, Environment Canada meteorologist, said there’s a pocket of cold air hovering above sea level that’s keeping temperatures low. The wetter than normal April is also to blame.

“Every time we have precipitation, it’s drawing some of the warmer air to evaporate some of that rain, so we feel that chilling, damp cold,” Yu said.

The hottest May 15 on record was in 2006, at a balmy 25.9 C at the airport and 25.8 C at Gonzales. The average daytime high for May 15 is 16.6 C at the airport and 15.9 C at Gonzales.

Dan Ponchet, president of the Southern Vancouver Island Direct Farm Marketing Association and owner of Dan’s Farm in Central Saanich, said many farmers are having to heat their greenhouses, which is costly.

Strawberries will likely be ready in mid-June, a few weeks late.

“In all my years, and I’m getting old now, I don’t remember a spring this bad,” Ponchet said.

Laurel Rassenti, the assistant manager at Russell Nursery in North Saanich, said spring flowers are about two weeks to a month later than expected.

Rassenti said staff are telling anyone wanting to plant summer annuals and tomatoes to hold off until the weather improves.

Respite from the cool conditions could come over the Victoria Day long weekend, which promises sun and temperatures between 17 and 19 C. Temperatures on Tuesday are expected to reach as high as 21 C.


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