Despite the fact that Cochranites know they should not be surprised by the return of winter, we still are. Brian Proctor with Environment Canada aptly describes the winter season thus far. “This year has been an exceptional year in a number of ways, where we have seen this almost manic behavior in terms of what has been happening weather-wise across southern Alberta. We have seen really cold air in the month of December followed up by an extended period of warm air for much of January and early February. And now this sudden plunge back into winter has affected everyone in a significant way.” 

As for the amount the snowfall that was received recently, it was not a record amount for this area, but it was a good thing. Not only are the ski hills happy but Proctor points out that the snowpack is important for all of us. “The winter snowpack is essential for us from a water resource user utilization point of view as we move into the spring and also from agricultural points of view and even forest fire points of view, we really do need that snowpack in the mountains that provides much of the water availability for us across southern Alberta as we move into the drier sort of late spring into the summer season.” 

There was a great deal of variability in the amount of snowfall ranging from 13 to 20 to 35 centimetres across metropolitan Calgary and extending west. Proctor points out the fact that the latest event took place over a two-day period beginning the evening of February 20 and extending into the 22nd which makes it difficult to compare to a one-day record event. Historical records show 4.3 cm of snow on February 20, 1970, 3.6 cm on February 21, 1965, and 8 cm on February 22, 2006. Proctor says, “So trying to add them up over a whole storm cycle, it may have been a fairly significant snowfall event, but it was not individual record-setting on any particular day.” 

Okay, so we understand that the snow and moisture are needed but we could do without the extremely cold temperatures.  Proctor confirms that we are well below normal daytime high and overnight low temperatures. Fortunately, Proctor says the cold snap will be short-lived, “It looks like we are going to chinook on the weekend, and then as you move into the start of the work week, it looks pretty seasonal but cooling off mid-week onwards.” 

As the saying goes in the Cochrane area, wait a minute, or in this case, a couple of days, and the weather will change.