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'Challenging' ski season expected in BC as El Niño brings below-normal snowfall this winter

Winter in British Columbia this year is likely to feature some “curveballs” due to one of the strongest El Niño events on record, a prominent forecaster has predicted.

The Weather Network said the global weather pattern created by El Niño “is unlike anything we’ve seen before” and warned of mild temperatures in BC.

“Typically, with El Niño, the dominant storm track tends to stay south of the border in California,” the Weather Network explained in a winter forecast released this morning.

<who> Photo credit: The Weather Network

“Therefore, we expect that most of the province will see below-normal precipitation, below-normal snowfall, and more sunshine than we typically see during the winter.”

Temperatures are expected to be higher than normal, while fewer – and shorter – Arctic outflows are predicted around Vancouver and Victoria.

But wet weather could also be on tap for the South Coast, with a heightened risk of Pineapple Express events bringing some episodes of heavy rain.

<who> Photo credit: The Weather Network

In next-door Alberta, the forecaster warned of the possibility of a rare “brown Christmas” due to mild temperatures and low levels of precipitation.

BC’s ski season, meanwhile, is expected to be “challenging at times.”

Big White has already had to push back its opening day twice this season, first from Nov. 23 to Nov. 30 and then to Dec. 5.

"We are all keeping our fingers crossed for snow," Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice president of Big White Ski Resort, said.

Weather Network meteorologist Tyler Hamilton, however, said some resorts in the province – including Big White, Silverstar, Sun Peaks and Revelstoke – could still “finish with an above-normal snowfall.”



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