Plunging Temperature - November 11, 1955

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Margot, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. Margot

    Margot Active Member

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    Anyone living and gardening in the BC Lower Mainland on November 11, 1955 may remember Remembrance Day for another reason that year - an enormous drop in the temperature that damaged or killed many, many plants in forests, fields and gardens. Until I found a few sentences recently in a 2007 article by Clive Justice in the Journal American Rhododendron Society, I had been frustrated in my efforts to find any corroboration.

    I'd love to hear any memories others may have of this event.
     

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  2. vitog

    vitog Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I didn't live here that long ago, but it was easy to check the temperatures for that year. Environment Canada's Daily Data Report for Vancouver Airport, November, 1955, shows that on Nov 11 the temperature dropped below zero Celsius for the first time that month, to -4.4 C. Then, on the next 4 days the daily lows were near -12 C, all record lows for those dates. That was an extreme case of something that seems to be fairly common here: an early blast of arctic air that damages overwintering crops before they have had enough exposure to cold temperatures to be sufficiently hardened off. I've seen that happen quite a few times during the 45 years that I've been gardening in the Vancouver area.
     
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  3. Margot

    Margot Active Member

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    Until I found Clive Justice's article, I wasn't even sure if I had the right year or month in mind. At Vitog's suggestion, I looked at Environment Canada's Daily Data Report for New Westminster rather than Vancouver Airport because temperatures there are more similar to those in Burnaby than Richmond. I was surprised that the daily lows remained about -12C for 5 days straight! For years after that, I used to puzzle why so many tall, evergreen trees I saw in our area had several feet of brown tops but it wasn't until much later that I considered the possibility that they had been killed by that severe, early cold snap.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
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  4. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Active Member

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    and if you consider that the winter arctic high pressure flow generally comes blasting down the major inlets and valleys (the Fraser Valley, Howe Sound, etc) - it scoots across the Salish Sea to Eastern side of Vanc Island (so while the air might be blasting down Howe sound - it's dry air - but Nanaimo and Duncan get the sudden dump of snow.)

    also - we have photos of relatives' place near Duncan BC - them all skating on Quamichan Lake - and i'd guess that our relatives (style of clothing - age they appear to be etc) are photographed in the mid-50's (as in circa 1955). That homeowners in the photo had a lovely traditional English style garden - roses and wisteria and clematis etc ... so I presume the plants survived.

    it seems we (in Lower Mainland BC) always get a nice few days of sub-freezing sunny weather around USA Thanksgiving - this year in 2018 it came about a week later, correct? In any event - my new rosemary plant (Arp) survived - I tucked it right up against the cabin! yay!

    Interesting question. Weather extremes.... and the cold snap you speak of was not long after that huge forest fire on Vanc Island - I think in the late 1930's [caused by logging practices of the day] ... I've heard it called "The Big Burn" - they were really concerned that it was going all the way to Victoria! There's probably still burned stumps and snags in the forests around your neck of the woods. https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfd/pubs/docs/scv/scv871.pdf
     
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  5. Margot

    Margot Active Member

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    Georgia Strait - you and Vitog obviously have a greater understanding of weather patterns than I do even having lived in the area all my life. Likewise, I had never heard about the big fire on Vancouver Island in 1938. I've read quite a few pages on your link, especially the "Additional Information" at the end. Another website I've found about the fire is http://twpaterson.com/vancouver-islands-worst-fire/ . More and more, the threat of fires in the wild and in semi-rural communities like mine is a serious concern.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
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