With just 142.6 hours of sunshine, Victoria winter a dull one

Now that spring is here, perhaps it will bring along the sunshine that was missing during winter.

The winter months of December, January and February were not only unusually dreary, said Environment Canada weather services specialist Anne McCarthy, they combined to produce the least-sunny trio of winter months on record.

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December had 32.3 hours of sun, well below the average of 57. January saw 56.7 hours of sunshine, well below the average of 69. February’s 53.6 hours of sun didn’t come close to the average of 90.3.

“We total up over the winter and get only 142.6 hours of bright sunshine,” McCarthy said. “It’s three dull months.”

The sunniest December-February on record came in 1992-93, which had 320.9 hours. Next was 2004-05 at 302. Sun was in short supply for the first day of spring on Wednesday, which featured periods of wind and rain. Not to worry, McCarthy said.

“Spring is a transition. It’s not like flipping a light switch. There’s always ups and downs to it. We can still get those strong winds.”

B.C. Hydro was dealing with about 15,000 outages throughout the south Island at about 5 p.m. Wednesday, with wind the primary cause.

A large plum tree fell on Wark Street during the strong winds and a pine tree fell in Beacon Hill Park, hitting the canopy of one vehicle and the roof of another car.

“Fortunately there were no injuries,” said City of Victoria spokeswoman Katie Josephson.

A full size cherry tree came down on Burdett Avenue near Vancouver Street, and another tree fell on Richmond Avenue near Chandler Avenue late Wednesday afternoon. Begbie Street near Fern Street was partially closed after a large tree fell.

Crews were kept busy with the cleanup, Josephson said. “With wet soil from recent rains and strong wind gusts, the trees tend to uproot a bit easier.”

McCarthy had a word of warning for people planning trips, reasoning some of them might be misled when good local weather hits.

“If you’re doing any travelling, just because it looks like spring here does not mean there won’t be snow up on the mountain passes.”

As well, she said to wait a little longer before diving into some of those springtime chores. “Don’t even think about planting the tomatoes.”

Today’s weather is expected to be similar to Wednesday’s, although a few degrees cooler at 8 C. Overnight temperatures could dip as low as –1 C over the weekend.

The cold temperatures have led to activation of the region’s extreme-weather protocol, which provides added shelter for people who are homeless. Program co-ordinator Jen Book said the protocol was in place Wednesday night and will be again tonight.

Don’t expect double-digit temperatures until early next week. The forecast calls for highs of 13 C on Monday and Tuesday.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

With additional reporting by Judith Lavoie

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