Long-term weather forecast holding

Accuweather.com: Normal winter on the way in January

In October, AccuWeather.com released its winter forecast for all of North America, and so far the conditions on the south coast of B.C. and Whistler are almost exactly as predicted.

AccuWeather.com meteorologist Brett Anderson predicted there would be less snow and warmer than average temperatures, with a high-pressure cold snap or two, through the first part of the season.

True to form, November saw just 123cm of snow, which is just over half the monthly average over the past dozen years, while December snowfall as of last Friday (Dec. 27) was less than 60cm with another dry, high-pressure system moving in.

By way of comparison, total snow for November-December of 2012 was 560cm, in 2011 it was 449cm and in 2010 it was 629cm. The worst season in probably 30 years, 2004-2005, had 211cm by the end of December.

But Anderson's original prediction from October also called for a return to average temperatures and precipitation for the rest of the season, starting in January. The Question caught up with Anderson last week to see if the second part of his prediction was unfolding as planned.

So far, so good.

"It does look like we're going to see mild temperatures above normal for much of B.C., and it's going to be drier (than average) as well," he said. "That's going to continue with rain and snow below normal for the first week of January, but there are signs that things might start to change the second or third week of January and turn to a stormier pattern.

"It won't be as cold (as the average), but it will be cooler in mid-to-late January and that may persist through mid-to-late February - which is similar to my original forecast."

The last part of winter, mid-February through April, is harder to predict this far out, but the long-range forecast is predicting temperatures that are cooler than average and snowfall that's near normal. "Although along the coast when it gets cooler it generally gets a little bit drier," warned Anderson.

Anderson said that the weather pattern that's affecting Whistler most right now is a high pressure ridge off the Gulf of Alaska, which has been pushing storms away while sending the occasional high-pressure cold snap into B.C. and the Prairies. That should start to break down in the next few weeks.

"The air flow is mostly coming from the northwest instead of the west, which is a little different for the coast," said Anderson. "Predominantly, a west wind brings more precipitation and more storms, and with the more northwesterly flow of air those storms aren't getting through.

"I think that high-pressure system is going to break down, and allow the more westerly winds to come in with a better chance at precipitation and snowfall across ski country."

Families ski half price at B.C. Family Day

The Canada West Ski Areas Association and its report partners have announced a 50 per cent off promotion for B.C. Family Day, taking place on Monday, Feb. 10.

Participating resorts, including Whistler Blackcomb, will offer a 50 per cent discount off the ticket window price with proof of residency. The offer can't be combined with any other offers, but participating resorts are welcome to add to it.

"What better way to celebrate B.C. Family Day 2014 than to have a staycation and explore the amazing ski slopes that B.C. has to offer," said Shirley Bond, minister of jobs, tourism and skills training, as well as the minister responsible for labour.

"Tourism is an important economic driver in our province - and ski resorts play a key role. By taking part in some of the options being offered during the B.C. Family Day Ski Promotion, we can keep tourism dollars right here in B.C., support vital businesses in our communities and also help create jobs."

There are 24 ski resorts participating in the promotion. Regionally, the list includes Grouse and Hemlock.

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