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'Fogtober' sets weather record in North Vancouver

October had been very foggy, and very dry, say meteorologists


An unusual weather system blanketed much of the North Shore in a cool, eerie fog for a record number of days this week.

The dense fog bank that’s recently given a horror-movie cast to some familiar landmarks had been hanging around the south coast for eight days by Thursday — breaking the previous record for fog in October.

“This fog bank has just been really stubborn and persistent,” said Matt MacDonald, a meteorologist at Environment Canada.

MacDonald said it’s possible the fog could hang around until the weekend.

The thick fog has been caused by a ridge of high pressure — which usually brings warm sunny weather — essentially trapping stagnant layers of moisture-saturated air in low lying areas for the past week.

Two types of fog — sea fog, which forms over the water and radiation fog, created over land — have combined to bring us what some people in the Lower Mainland have dubbed Fogtober.

Fog has been thickest over the water and just before sunrise.

While all B.C. Ferries ships are equipped with radar, the fog created a few delays on routes out of Horseshoe Bay this week as vessels have slowed down to ensure safety around other marine traffic, said Deborah Marshall, spokeswoman for B.C. Ferries. “Safety is our first priority,” she said.

One sailing to Bowen Island was cancelled this week after the vessel ended up an hour behind schedule.

West Vancouver's marine search and rescue crews were also called on Monday when a paddle boarder got lost in the fog in English Bay.

Not everyone has been swimming in pea soup, however.

The weather pattern in the past week has created what meteorologists call an inversion — meaning the temperatures have actually been much warmer and skies have been brighter in the North Shore mountains than they have been at sea level — the opposite of what usually happens.

“Up in the North Shore mountains it’s 20 degrees,” said MacDonald. “That’s really been the place to be over the past week.”

Highs at Point Atkinson in West Vancouver hovered around nine degrees this week, while Grouse and Cypress both reached temperatures of over 20, said MacDonald.

That’s resulted in record numbers of people going up to take advantage of balmy weather up top, said Jacqueline Blackwell, spokesperson for Grouse Mountain Resorts.

“This is our best October in our history,” she said — with the number of visitors up 30 per cent over last October.

“The Grind has been very popular.”

This October has also been one of the driest on record, said MacDonald.

So far only 20 millimetres of rain have fallen this month, with the last rainfall Oct. 7. Normal rainfall for October is 113 mm in the Lower Mainland.

If weather continues to be dry through to Halloween, it will be the second driest October on record, said MacDonald.

The driest October was in 1987.

Check out some awesome shots of the fog as captured on and from the North Shore.

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