The year of the deep freeze

by Bob Truman on April 1, 2017

in Year in review

I don’t know about you but I like looking at statistics. One of our regular trip reporters, Ray Perrott, is a collector of data and puts it in an easily readable form for us. I started skiing in 1997, and I don’t remember a winter with so many cold days, and this report from Ray proves it:

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“From a skiing standpoint at least, this past winter was the coldest we’ve had in quite a number of years.  There are many ways to judge how cold a winter was, often involving average temperatures.  But I’ve looked at it from a skier’s standpoint.  Any day where the temperature started out at -20C or colder, and never warmed up to warmer than -10C, I’ve deemed a “Very Cold Day”.  Personally, I like skiing between -10C and -5C.

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Based on this categorization, we had 31 very cold days this winter.

That’s the second most in the past 25 years (1995-1996 had 34 very cold days). By contrast, last winter had 3 such days.

Thanks to Ray Perrott for the statistics

The biggest chunk of this winter’s very cold days were a 12 day stretch from Dec. 6-17.  Coupled with a warm, low-snow November, and the lowest December snowfall in the last 5 years, most of our favorite ski venues struggled to have enough snow until Christmas or later.  I’ve included a chart that shows (for Banff) “Snow on the ground” for the month of December, for the past 5 years.  The data comes from Environment Canada’s website, and I’ve smoothed the lines slightly.

The chinooks of Jan. 27-29 and Feb. 13-17 did quite a bit of damage (especially to WBC and around Banff), and the very warm conditions of the past two weeks have not helped.  But most winters have these unwanted warm conditions – the price we pay for living in southern Alberta.”

Dec 17: It was -28 at Kananaskis Fire Lookout

I used a lot of toe-warmers this winter. I recall a trip report from Helen Read where the temperature at Pipestone was -31, and I’ll never forget the day I skied up to the Kananaskis Fire Lookout…

-28 at Kananaskis Fire Lookout 

“After a few minutes of descent I had to stop and put toe warmers in my boots and get my mitts out. I was now wearing every piece of warm clothing I had.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bob Truman April 2, 2017 at 9:17 pm

Does any of this sound familiar? Nordic ski areas fight whiplash winter

“The whiplash effect refers to the weather changing in short periods from unseasonably warm to freezing cold with major snowstorms followed by unseasonably warm weather, and repeat from late November through early April.”

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2 Doug Connery April 2, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Thanks Ray for doing all the stats. Now I don’t feel like such a wimp anymore for not getting out as much this winter. Congrats to all in the 1,000 km club.

Have a great summer everyone one, I should be back out on my skis again around Nov 11 on MLR.

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3 Martin Jones April 2, 2017 at 12:38 pm

It was cold enough to crack my boots!

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4 lori April 2, 2017 at 10:51 am

Great/interesting summary!

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