April 2016 Summary – Way above average temps. Stretch of Hot weather has fire danger picking up.

Well above average April in temperature.  Much lower than normal precipitation.  A dry, warm outlook.

It is going to be a hot dry weekend and that is just a continuation of what we saw in April.

We set a whole raft of new short term temperature records (seven) at the Airport but did not quite manage to set any all time daily records. oops! Good thing I reread these posts 3 or 4 times.  We did beat one all time record on April 7th!  We also set one rain day record even though we also had overall a dry month.

I do not have the ability to check the same statistic for Port Alberni, but Vancouver had the warmest April on record last month. Their normal mean temperature for the month is 9.4ºC and the record they set this month was 11.8ºC.  A difference of 2.4ºC.  Normal for our Airport (using Robertson Creek normals) is 8.5ºC.  The Airport recorded a mean of 11.4ºC in April.  A difference from the normal of 2.9ºC!

This overall average was on the back of extremely hot high temperature averages of 17.8ºC at the Airport which was 3.6ºC above the 14.2ºC normal for April and only 0.1ºC behind the normally a bit warmer City temperatures.

The measured averages at the Airport for minimum, mean and high temperatures were: 4.9º C, 11.4° C, 17.8º C.  I pull this up from the bottom of the post because as you can see below, these numbers are closer to the averages for May than they are April.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 9.12.58 AM

So while I do not know for sure that we set a record for warmest April, it is certain that it was very warm.

The other story this month is precipitation.  First, it appears Environment Canada has fixed the measurements at the Airport. We got a full month of precipitation data for the first time in many months! Lets hope that that continues indefinitely.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot of rain to measure. Only 52mm (32 in the City) which is 36% of normal.  May is not looking any wetter.

I have included El Niño, Snowpack and Fire info below.  Enjoy!

El Niño update

Here is the April 14 El Niño discussion.  I would expect much the same from the May update.

A transition to ENSO-neutral is likely during late Northern Hemisphere spring or early summer 2016, with an increasing chance of La Niña during the second half of the year.

Here is what they said the month before.  Very near the same.  La Niña can sometimes bring cooler winters.

A transition to ENSO-neutral is likely during late Northern Hemisphere spring or early summer 2016, with close to a 50 percent chance for La Niña conditions to develop by the fall.

Well Below Average Snowpack Declining

Unlike at the start of April when it was still at least holding on, the snowpack is now definitely in retreat at our closest station at Jump Creek near Nanaimo. (dark blue line).  Obviously not as bad as last year’s snow, but that’s easy when the number to beat is zero! 😐


Wildfire Situation

Since the Wildfire season is getting off to an early start, here is the current BC map as of May 4.  The biggest danger zones remain in the NorthEast nearest Alberta.


The fire danger for the Alberni Valley (Beaver Creek) and most of the Island has fluctuated of late.  It is rising now.  Currently at moderate for us and is forecast to go to High on May 7th and onward.

I would be remiss to point out that the BC Wildfire representatives who visited us at the Air Quality Council a couple weeks ago said that more hectares were burned during the 2015 fire season in the Coastal fire centre than the previous 50 years combined.  Incredible fire activity and severity.  Lets hope we get a reprieve this year… it’s bad enough in Alberta already.

Here is the National Map as of May 4.fdr20160504


16 day Outlook — Gradually drying.

Here are the 16-day GEPS consensus graphs from SpotX.  We should continue this sunny and warm pattern through next week.  Then it looks like temperatures moderate a bit mid-month but the chances for rainfall are extremely slim.  Less than 40mm of rain total is expected between now and the 21st.   Note that the maximum temperatures often underestimate for our specific Valley.  

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.26.47 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.27.10 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.27.28 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.27.37 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.27.49 AM

Three-Month Forecasts Not Updated this month.   You can skip to the Time-lapse.

Some of the stuff that I include in these reports, like the El Niño and these three month forecasts, don’t update until well into the month which really draws out the time that it takes to create these posts.  So I’m not going to update this month’s three-month forecasts in this post.  You can see the forecasts in last months summary or wait for a new post on them coming hopefully next week.

That’s it!

Monthly Timelapse Video

Daily records set this month at the Airport (and compared to other stations* for “All Time” since 1900)

Seven new Airport high temps, one rain, one all time high temp record.

*Short Term (since 1995) Airport Records are compared to the 30+ year weather stations of record since 1900 (1895 for rain) at Beaver Creek, Port Alberni “City” and Robertson Creek.  Note that records pre 1950 may be more likely to over-estimate high temperatures.

April 2016  Minimum, Overall and High Daily Average Temps See last month’s and last April’s summary.

Alberniweather7.2º C, 12.0° C, 18.2º C
Alberni Elementary School : 7.0º C, 11.9º C, 17.9° C
Maquinna Elementary School6.9º C, 11.5º C, 17.6° C
Neptune Canada Station: 7.3º C, 11.9º C, 18.4° C
Nick’s Weather (Maquinna area): 7.0º C, 11.5º C, 17.2° C
Overall City Average: 7.1º C, 11.8 C, 17.9º C
Environment Canada Airport* : 4.9º C, 11.4° C, 17.8º C

1981-2010 EC Normal (Robertson Creek)2.7º C, 8.5º C, 14.2° C

Precipitation for April 2016:

Alberniweather: 27.2 mm
AES: 32.2 mm
MAQ: NA (Gauge Malfunction)
NEP: NA (not measured)
Nick: 37.6 mm
Overall City Average: 32.3 mm
EC: 52.2 
1981-2010 Env Canada Normal (Robertson Creek): 144.2 mm

City Stations Temperature Difference from normal:
4.4° C, 3.3º C, 3.7º C
Official (Airport) Temperature Difference from normal:
 2.2º C, 2.9º C, 3.6º C
City Stations Precipitation difference normal:
 -111.9 mm (22.4% of normal)
Official (Airport) Precipitation difference from  normal:
 -92 mm (36.2% of normal)

Days of Precipitation for April 2016
>= 0.2 mm:  Normal: 17.6 : This Month: 16
>= 5 mm:  Normal: 7.8 : This Month: 2
>= 10 mm: Normal:  4.7 : This Month: 0
>= 25 mm: Normal: 1.4 : This Month: 0

Comparison to recent months of April at Alberniweather

  • 2015: Significantly warmer in 2016 and similar rain.
    See April 2015 Summary Here .
  • 2014: Significantly warmer in 2016 and a fraction of rain.
    See the April 2014 Summary Here.
  • 2013: Significantly warmer in 2016 and a fraction of rain.
  • 2012: Very Significantly Warmer in 2016, ’12 very wet (682mm+)
  • 2011: Very Significantly Warmer in 2016, fraction of rain.
  • 2010: Significantly warmer in 2016, 2010 very wet (500mm+)
  • 2009: Warmer in 2016 and a fraction of rain.
  • 2008: Very significantly warmer in 2016 and less rain.
  • 2007: Significantly warmer in 2016 and a fraction of rain.
  • 2006: Significantly warmer in 2016 and a fraction of rain.

Heat returning for weekend. Weather data of Devastating Ft Mac Fire

Please donate to the Red Cross to help the thousands of refugees that are now in need. It really is like a war zone.

For our area, a brief bit of rain yesterday actually delivered slightly more than UWash forecasted, but still just 3mm over the past 24 hours.

We will now shift back to a dry and warm pattern with the heat building to the high twenties on Friday and Saturday before breaking again Sunday.  There is no precipitation forecast through Wednesday next week.

50,000 83,000(!) Climate Change Refugees Evacuated from massive fires. The Weather Data.

The images from Northern Alberta yesterday and this morning were incredible, sad, terrifying, devastating.

Pic from CBC. Clck for updates.

A friend of mine from Port Alberni who escaped last night told his wife it was like an apocalypse.  It is not going to get much better today, in fact it might get worse as the forecast is for the same hot and very dry (<10% humidity!) and high gusting winds from the West.  They will hopefully get some relief tomorrow but it will be too late for a huge number of people.

So far at least 1600 structures have been burned!

The hot spot yesterday in Canada was tiny Garden River, Alberta which hit 33.3°C it is about 300km Northwest of Fort McMurray in Wood Buffalo National Park. Fort Mac wasn’t far behind at 32.6°C.

Fort McMurray has an excellent long period station stretching from 1944 to today. Yesterday’s temperature was the hottest May 2nd ever recorded at that station, breaking the mark by an astonishing 5°C.


I went through all the monthly data since 1913 using two stations at Fort McMurray. Here are the top April and May Temperatures in Fort Mc Murray:

April 29 1939 35.0º C (Suspect?)
April 29 1980 32.2º C

May 29, 1936 36ºC.
May 26, 1986 34.8ºC
May 21 33.9 1916
May 28, 1944, May 20, 1961, May 13, 1971, May 25 1934 and May 28 1995 it hit 32.8ºC

So  one thing we can definitely take away from this is that this is the hottest start to May ever recorded in the Wood Buffalo region.    It is very rare for it to be so hot, so early in the year.

The fire behaviour that we are seeing here is extreme and catastrophic.

This reminds me of my meeting just last week with the BC Wildfire service.  They came to the Air Quality Council meeting at the ACRD offices to talk about the fires we had here last year and the behaviour (and smoke issues) they saw from those fires.

They said what is changing is the severity and the timing of the fires.  The season is getting longer, and the behaviour is getting worse.  The Coastal Fire Centre saw more hectares burned in 2015 than in all the previous 50 years combined.  They also said that now, often when they call other provinces or states for help, they get a “no, we were going to call you” response.  And that is exactly what BC had to tell Alberta yesterday because of fires in BC’s north.  The services are stretched to their limit.  Climate Change is hitting these people that are trying to protect us the hardest and it is putting lives and livelihoods in danger as we are seeing now with devastating effect in Fort McMurray.

Thankfully, Coulson has sent a helicopter and there is another asset on the way from Australia.  Western Canada is going to need everything it can get.  Check out the national map.



I just downloaded all of the fire maps for this day in the Natural Resources Canada archive since 2000.  This year is definitely the  the worst, most extreme and widespread fire picture we have seen at this time of year in their records.


For a complete look at all of the links to global warming and climate change including many things we have talked about before on this blog, go check out this excellent article.

And here is another “Climate Context For the Fort McMurray Wildfire”.

In 2012 Mike Flannigan, a forest researcher at the University of Alberta said, “In a warmer world, there will be more fire. That’s a virtual certainty… I’d say a doubling or even tripling of fire events is a conservative estimate”.

The tragic irony is all too clear.  I personally reject the idea that we can’t link this single extreme event to climate change but yet say that “extreme” events like it are made more likely by it.  In order for one of those statements to be true, the other has to be true as well.  The positions are one and the same in my mind.  We have to stop pussyfooting around the issue.  How many disasters like this will it take before we really make massive changes in how our society fuels itself?  And science is telling us these are just the beginning of the changes that we have already set in motion. I can’t imagine what we have coming at us in the future.  With the Slave Lake fire in 2011, the Calgary floods in 2013 and this fire now… Alberta seems to be taking the brunt of the hit in Canada.   We must do absolutely everything possible to prevent these tragedies escalating in the future.  That means ending fossil fuel use as soon as we possibly can. With images like this, suffering like this, the largest evacuation in Alberta history, how can we not?

In the immediate though, please donate.