High pressure is strengthening across western and central BC, which will result in warm and dry conditions across most areas on Wednesday. The exception will be across far eastern portions, where a cooler northerly flow will result in colder temperatures and light snow showers/flurries. We will warm up and dry out across the board on Thursday, then another weak disturbance from the north/northwest will bring rain/snow showers to most ranges on Friday. The weekend is looking warm and dry as high pressure re-strengthens.
Short Term Forecast
All ski areas are closed in British Columbia due to COVID-19. Avalanche Canada has also suspended avalanche forecasts for the remainder of the season due to COVID-19.
Backcountry skiing is generally advised against by local authorities in BC right now, both to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and also to prevent any added strain on the healthcare system in the event of a backcountry emergency.
We are experiencing what is known as an “amplified” flow pattern right now with a strong ridge of high pressure located over Western BC, while a deep trough of low pressure east of BC is resulting in a northerly flow that is bringing colder temperatures and upslope snowfall to the Alberta Rockies.
Here is a look at the upper-level chart from Wednesday morning that depicts this pattern well.
There is some lingering moisture on the BC side of the Continental Divide, but most areas will stay dry due to northeasterly winds that are unfavorable for most zones.
The Continental Divide region along the BC/Alberta border and the East Purcells can expect some light snow showers (accumulations <5 cm) through most of the day on Wednesday along with chilly temperatures.
Elsewhere, temperatures will warm up and sunshine will increase the farther west you go. The Columbias and Kootenays will see freezing levels around 1,000 meters on Wednesday afternoon while freezing levels will rise to 2,000 meters across the Coast Range.
On Thursday, warm and dry conditions can be expected across all areas with freezing levels ranging from 1,800-2,500 meters.
Another weak disturbance will work its way around the periphery of the high pressure ridge on Friday and slide south into the BC Interior, bringing rain/snow showers to most areas during the day on Friday. Across Northern BC, this activity will arrive on Thursday night.
Freezing levels will drop to 1,500-2,000 meters on Friday morning before rising to 1,800-2,500 meters again on Friday afternoon, resulting in low/mid elevation rain and high elevation snow.
Snow amounts on Friday will generally range from a trace to 8 cm for all areas, except along the western slopes of the Coast Range (Whistler, etc.) where conditions will remain dry.
The BC/Alberta border and East Purcells could see some lingering snow showers through early Saturday, but otherwise, conditions will dry out with increasing sunshine and temperatures remaining warm.
The warm and sunny weather will continue through Sunday as well, making for a nice spring weekend.
High pressure will continue to result in warm and dry conditions through the first part of next week. The Canadian and American GFS models are indicating that high pressure will break down on Tuesday or Wednesday (April 21-22), allowing for a weak/moderate storm system to move through, while the European holds this system off until later in the week.
While the details are uncertain, we should see a return to more active weather with cooler temperatures at some point next week.
Thanks for reading! I will post my final forecast of the season on Friday, April 17 and will also provide a season recap.
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