2012 was a year of warmer-than-average temperatures across the country, but not in Prince George.
Statistically speaking, we were cool.
In fact, our city joined Grande Prairie as the only two inland cities in Western Canada where the temperature average for the year was below normal.
But before you pack up the house to migrate to a desert oasis in Kamloops, the average yearly temperature in all cities fluctuates constantly. Even though it was a bit cooler in P.G., averaging 3.7 C, the past year was no cause for concern a mini ice age is on the way.
"The yearly average is 4 C for Prince George and the standard deviation for the year is 1 C, so that -.3 C deviation wasn't really significant," said Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist.
"In British Columbia, the waters off the eastern Pacific were colder than average so some of the coastal places did come out below average for the year for temperature. Notwithstanding the coastal sites, [Prince George was] really the only area of the Interior and inland B.C. that was below average."
Vancouver averaged 10.1 C for the year, slightly above its 9.8 C average; Victoria was a 0.2 C, above the 9.7 C average; but on the West coast, Tofino was 0.6 C below average at 9.1 C. The yearly average in Kamloops was 8.9 C, 1.1 C warmer than the norm.
In Prince George, the year started with exceptionally mild conditions in January and early February, then stayed cooler than normal until early July, when the city finally shook the effects of the third rainiest June on record. That began an exceptional three-month stretch of mostly warm summer sunshine and dry days. But the glow wore off in October and the month ended with an unseasonable blast of Arctic air that sunk lows to -20 C and buried the city in nearly a foot of snow , most of which stayed on the ground as the winter season began.
Yearly precipitation in 2012 was well below normal and Prince George was one of the few B.C. cities to be drier than normal. A total of 433 millimetres of precipitation came down at the airport, 137 mm below the yearly average of 580 mm.
In December, the average temperature at Prince George airport was -8.7 C, taking into account an average high for the month of -5.3 C and an average low of -12.1 C. The average temperature for the month is -7.8 C, based on a normal high of -4 C and a normal low of -11.7 C
Christmas Day was the coldest day of the month at -21.2 C, while the warmest December day was the 4th, when it hit 6.8 C.
December was slightly drier than normal, with close to 44 centimetres of precipitation, less than the average 52 cm. Of that moisture, 49 cm fell as snow (normally 54 cm) and five millimetres dropped as rain (eight mm is the normal rainfall for the month).
The last week of the year brought chilly temperatures and a few good snow dumps, which created slippery road conditions but left local ski ski hills in great shape. A ridge of high pressure holding the cold air in will remain, but only until the weekend, when a warming trend arrives.
"For Friday through to early next week well get into a westerly flow pattern that will bring in periods of flurries at times, but warming," said Lundquist. "The highs for the next couple days will be around -6C, around the normals of -5 C, but by early next week highs we'll be above average for the Prince George with highs about zero."
n With no new snow the past two days, road crews have had time to plow and sand highways, however compact snow and slippery sections remain on all connecting routes to the city and motorists are being advised to slow down and take into account winter road conditions.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure advises drivers maintain a four-second rule to determine a safe driving distance behind another vehicle on a winter road. Posted speed limits are for ideal driving conditions and in winter it's always safer to drive below the limit.
Slow down when approaching areas where black ice is likely to form, such as shaded sections, bridges and overpasses. Avoid sudden accelerations or braking which can cause a skid and know how to turn into the direction of skid to regain control. If skidding straight on ice, step on the clutch or shift into neutral to disengage the motor.
Always drive with headlights on and use extreme caution when approaching a highway maintenance vehicle. Plows and sanding trucks throw up snow or spray which can obscure the vision of approaching motorists.