No weather records were broken for the central Vancouver Island region last month, but people who felt December was particularly wet and gloomy will have that perception validated by Environment Canada.
“First of all, we’re starting with a tricky month in terms of sunlight and it’s also one of the more stormy months, so we do tend to get a lot of cloud and precipitation,” said Carmen Hartt, Environment Canada meteorologist.
December normally receives about 50.8 hours of sunshine on average, according to Environment Canada records. The agency no longer measures sunlight hours per month, but it does tally the number of days of precipitation in a month and this December was wetter than normal.
“The normal days of precipitation is 20.4 in December and we had 22 days of precipitation,” Hartt said. “That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is.”
Not only did rain fall more days in December in the Nanaimo area, it rained more too. Nanaimo normally averages 184 millimetres of rain for the month. This December 239 mm of rain drenched the city and it was the 21st wettest December since records started being kept in 1892.
“We had a really funny stretch from Dec. 2 to 6 … it was cold and sunny, but I think we had all our sun in that week … so maybe that adds to that perception of being a gloomy month as well,” Hartt said.
Back-to-back storm systems, including the wind storm of Dec. 20, characterized December’s weather.
“The December stretch, it was unusual,” Hartt said. “We lost count because it was like one would end and the next one was already starting, so you couldn’t even call it each individual system because there was so much going on. It was from the ninth to the 23rd and then it settled a bit for the holiday period.”
Dark, bleak weather will continue into the coming week, but beyond that Hartt said January looks like it will get back to variable weather that is more the norm for the winter season.
“I think it’s the variable weather that’s actually preferred,” she said. “Everyone likes the sun, but if you get too much sun then you’re not going to get enough moisture. With the variable weather, at least then it’s not as depressing.”