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December 2023 likely warmest on record for North Shore

West Vancouver weather station broke 11 temperature records last month
A Tiger Dam and sandbags were placed outside the Silk Purse Gallery at John Lawson Park on the West Vancouver waterfront Dec. 28 in preparation for possible flooding due to seasonal King tides. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

The month of December will likely go down as the warmest on record for the North Shore – and many other parts of the South Coast.

Temperature records were smashed across the province, particularly in the last 10 days of December, according to Environment Canada.

Just under 350 records were broken in B.C. – mostly for daytime high temperatures and highest overnight low temperatures. Some of those records stretched back more than 100 years.

“We busted them quite significantly,” said Brian Proctor, meteorologist with Environment Canada.

West Vancouver broke 11 weather records during December, starting with one for rainfall Dec. 4 during the drenching atmospheric river.

But most of the records reflected the unseasonably warm temperatures that have left local ski runs uncharacteristically bare. In the past week, the West Vancouver weather station recorded highs of 14.5 degrees on both Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, surpassing previous records by up to five degrees.

“It was a very warm end to the month,” said Proctor.

So far, records tabulated for main weather stations around the South Coast show the warmest December on record, said Proctor. In the case of Vancouver airport, the temperatures were the warmest since records started being kept in 1896, he said.

Environment Canada is still crunching the December numbers for the West Vancouver weather station, but when the tallies for the North Shore are calculated, “I can say with complete confidence it will likely come out to be the warmest [December on record],” he said.

Temperatures are expected to dip to more seasonal norms by the weekend, with the possibility of snow flurries forecast for higher elevations. That’s good news for local ski hills. But the cold snap isn’t expected to last long.

Overall, the influence of a “super strong” El Niño weather pattern, which usually brings warmer, drier weather to the South Coast, is likely to persist through to spring, said Proctor.