Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sun (and November wasn't over!)

Hard to believe, but it was apparent early this morning that it was going to be a nice day.  After my post yesterday, it warmed up a degree in the lower valley and turned to rain which it did till sometime through the night, but not heavy rain.  By dawn it was already freezing and the rest of the day just turned out like the picture above!

It's been a different 'fall' so to speak as far as the snow the Bella Coola Valley has received.  Not only did we get a significant amount of snow early, it seems to be accumulating and staying more in the upper valley, beyond Noosgulch River to Stuie.  There are reports of 45 cm on the ground at Stuie, meanwhile in the lower Bella Coola Valley around Snooka Creek the cows were grazing on bare fields today!  The temperature tonight is right at 0 C and Environment Canada is suggesting it will be cooler and sunnier this week. Grizzly

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Snow All Day

The rain turned to snow at daylight in some areas of the valley. The temperature has pretty much hovered just above or just below 0 C all day. The snow stayed steady all day and in the upper valley was starting to show 10 cm or more of accumulation by the evening.  Instead of listening to rain on the roof of my shed today, I was listening to avalanches.  There has been significant snow at altitudes this weekend, and you could hear snow sliding fairly steadily, but no chance of seeing anything with the kind of snow we had all day.  Grizzly

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cold & Rain

It tried to snow for awhile this morning in some areas of the valley, but for the most part the lower valley had turned to rain by mid day, but only just barely rain -- the temperature is hovering around 2 C most of the day, the snow level can't be very far up the mountains.  It sure has rained though most of the day.  I don't think the cloud/fog layer went much higher than 100 metres above the valley today.  If you had something to do inside today, it was a good day to do it.  That's what I did - made a pile of wood shavings while working on some projects and listening to the rain on the shed roof.  Grizzly

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Grey Week

The best thing about this week is that we are one week further through November. It was a week of mixed weather with no strong trends or big systems.  We lost some of the snow pack in the valley, but gained a bit up top.  Looks like 2'10" on the Heckman Pass snow gauge. The satellite image shows a pretty good system hitting the coast tonight so we'll see if that brings rain or snow to the valley.  The day is ending with the temperature around 1-2 C.  Grizzly

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This Day in November 1985

This day of November 26, 1985 in regards to the Bella Coola Airport Environment Canada weather station records represents the recorded extreme low temperature in Bella Coola for the period of records (since 1983). If July 29, 2009 was the all time undisputed maximum temperature of 40.4 C then November 26, 1985 was the coldest recorded temperature. This day was the peak of an arctic outflow event that saw the minimum temperature in Bella Coola hit -24.4 C at 8 AM. It began on the night of November 16th when the temperature started dropping below zero at the Bella Coola Airport. The arctic outflow eventually ended on December 4 when the temperatures finally climbed above 0 C and the east wind subsided. While any readers who are continental dwellers would scoff at temperatures like this, keep in mind this is the damp coast and we had sustained arctic outflow winds of 40 km/h through out this event and many gusts well in excess.

Cold arctic air from this system prevailed over all of western Canada as well, and you will often see it referred to in the weather news as the November 1985 cold spell that set many records on the BC Coast and elsewhere.

More in January about the all time recorded extreme low temperature in Bella Coola. Grizzly

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I like firewood piles.  People find all kinds of interesting ways to cut them and to stack them.  They are visually appealing with the endless patterns they form, the type of wood that makes them up and the colours that develop.  To the owner of the firewood they represent more than just a lot of hard work.  In addition they represent a sense of independence and security.  Just about everyone in Bella Coola has a wood pile, as most other forms of heat are expensive, but your firewood pile represents something that just won't fail you when you need it.  We all prepare for those inevitable power outages where we might be in the dark and our freezers thaw, but we know our families will be warm and we don't fret too much about when the power will be back - it always comes on eventually, but in the meantime we are warm and dry.  Firewood for most of us is a real connection to a simple, renewable and reliable source of energy.  It's a favourite topic of mine to talk to people about what kind of firewood they like to burn, there are lots of opinions and reasons, but I'll comment on that in another post.   What wood cutter doesn't stand back when they are done their yearly firewood supply and have a great sense of satisfaction with the work accomplished and the security it represents? Grizzly

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Satellite Weather

This is a good month to be a watcher of weather satellites.  There are lots of choices and ways to interpret them.  In addition to all the Environment Canada weather satellites, there is a good image compiled by the University of Wisconsin at Madison Wisconsin which is updated every 30 minutes.  It seems to have a good bandwidth selected and does a reasonable job of showing what is coming to the Central Coast.  Check it out.  Grizzly

Monday, November 23, 2009

Snow and Blue Sky

When I got an early start this morning on Highway 20, there was fine light snow on and off, most of the way to Anahim Lake.  My partner says it snowed big wet snowflakes for the morning in Bella Coola, then rained and some blue sky showed for a bit.  Thanks for the photo.

The snow gauge at Heckman Pass is showing just past the 2.5 foot mark (sorry it's not in metric).  Highway 20 is compact snow all the way from the Hill to the Puntzi Lake area.  There is a good 30 cm+ snow pack throughout the Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake area through to Tatla Lake.  It drops off past Tatla to less than 15 cm, and then from Alexis Creek to Williams Lake it's just a skiff plus or minus in most areas.  The Chilcotin was beautiful today.  Grizzly

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mostly Grey With a few Bright Spots

The temperature remains very stable at just above zero in the morning, climbing to 3 or 4 C as a maximum for the day.  There was some very light snow for a short while in the morning, then it turned to light rain and then it was just grey, with a slight glimmer of some clear sky above the valley clouds.  The trees shed most of the their snow on the mountains up to about the 1500' level, which seems where the freezing level must be holding at.

Took a bit of a hike around in the woods today up the valley and saw lots of deer tracks and a couple of rabbits that were all white and hard to spot until you were almost upon them.  No plane in the valley today though, saw the Pacific Coastal bus go by.  The Ruffed Grouse are feeding on the Mountain Ash berries that are still persisting on some of the leafless Ash trees.  They must taste good, when all the normal greenery and insects those grouse so enjoy are all covered up by snow.  Grizzly

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Good Day for the Annual Arts & Crafts Fair

Any November day that isn’t raining, blowing or snowing is a good day in the Bella Coola Valley – and that describes today.  The morning was just above freezing and there was a very light snowfall for a short time period in some areas.  Most of the rest of the day was pleasant with no major ‘events’.  The sky was dark and grey at the end of the day and the temperature back to just above freezing.  Might have hit 2o or 3o C at the most today.

The annual Bella Coola Valley Arts Council Arts & Crafts Fair was this evening and tomorrow at Lobelco Hall (our local community hall located mid way between Bella Coola and Hagensborg).  A good turnout and lots of unique and interesting local talent was evident.  Craft fairs in small towns are always fun events.  They show you the dedication and perseverance of the crafters and it’s fun to watch the progression of the different work and artistic influences of the individual crafters as the years go by.  I liked the butter tarts and chili too.  Grizzly

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Slight Thaw

The night stayed pretty mild last night and it was just above freezing this morning.  It actually warmed up to 4o or 5o C in the afternoon and had a few periods where you could see some clear sky.  Otherwise just a damp feeling most of the day.   At least the highways are all nicely back to bare blacktop.  Grizzly

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eagles & Fish

This is the time of the year when the bald eagles really enjoy a good spawning salmon.  The valley floor is covered in snow, the days wet and cool and catching a fresh fish or even scavenging a dead one is real treat.  The fish in this photo met his match when the eagles plucked it off the spawning grounds and what you  see is all that’s left.  There weren’t any critter tracks in the snow, except for bird foot prints, so I’m pretty sure they were successful in actually catching this one themselves and dragging it up on the snow.  Can’t tell if the fish had a chance to spawn before they caught it, because there wasn't much left.  With the snowpack on the valley bottom, picking off the odd spawning salmon and scavenging here and there will be all there is to look forward to for valley bald eagles for awhile.

Speaking of snow-pack, got a little more of that last night as well.  Some areas of the valley awoke to a fresh 15cm while others had rain and heavy slush.  It stopped in the early morning and it actually tried to clear off, there was blue sky but a layer of valley fog persisted till it was too late in the day to get much enjoyment out of the blue sky.  Temperature just at 0 C in the morning and 1 C in the early evening.  On the ground snow-pack ranges from 30 cm in the upper valley to 5-10 cm in the lower valley  Grizzly

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


No other way to describe today than just plain grey.  Near freezing in the morning  and back to the same tonight, a couple little snow  and rain showers along the way.  Mid day was the best and it looked pretty nice to the east.  The snow had a bit of crust on it today from freezing overnight. 

Someone asked if the black-tail deer are in the rut in the valley, and my answer would be yes. I have a seen a couple in the last 10 days that have that glazed-over wanderlust look  in their eyes and  unconcerned about vehicles and people.  Seems to me Remembrance Day is right around the peak of the coastal black-tail rut. Grizzly

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wet and Slushy

Another real November day.  Started out in the morning just above freezing again and is still there tonight.  Most of the day was either big wet snowflakes or a bit of rain.  The highway was slushy in the morning and then cleared a little by the afternoon.  This evening it has cooled down a little bit and there was a brief light snow.  Not much of the snow that we got on Sunday has melted, it just settled a little.  Bella Coola at the town site only has a bit of snow. First day in three that the plane wasn`t canceled  to both Bella Coola and Anahim Lake so hopefully anybody waiting to come and go since Sunday made it in or out via the bus route to Anahim Lake.  If I had to pick a month to miss in Bella Coola November would be the only month! 

Judging by the tracks of a  black tail deer I followed in the snow today the valley deer population since Sunday has gone from happily looking down for  their food and enjoying a lot of easily available forage (including my cabbage plants!)  to having to wander and look up for good woody things to browse on,  it must be a disappointing time of year for them. Grizzly

Monday, November 16, 2009

Snow and Power Outages - No Floods!

Well the snow that started yesterday kept up till the wee hours this morning.   Most areas of the valley received at least 5-15 cm, a lot more as you go east in the valley, more like 30 cm.  In some areas the snow was a lot heavier and wetter than other areas, but generally pretty heavy snow .  Highway 20 on “The Hill” is reported to have received a serious amount of snow that kept the highway ploughing contractors busy.  The power went out in most of the valley in the middle of the night when one of the large trees at the rock cut near the Village of Bella Coola came down across the power line and the highway.  There were also  a number of smaller trees heavily laden with wet snow which fell partially on the highway.  Further up valley the power is still out in the Stuie area tonight. The public schools were closed today, because the buses could not get between schools till mid morning when the tree was cleared and the power and heat restored in the schools.  The good news is that the big rains stayed further south and missed us.  Virtually all the precipitation in the Bella Coola Valley came down as snow.  The temperature in the morning was close to 0o C and it more or less stayed there into this evening.


All in all, a typical November day, early wet heavy snows are always a challenge for everyone.  It appears as though the mountain snowpack is quite substantial already which provides ideal conditions for all of our Grizzly and Black bears to head off and find their winter dens.  Last year we had a low early season snowpack and some very cold weather in December which along with fewer fall spawning salmon likely left bears in vulnerable conditions for denning.  With this snowfall  in the valley, it will be a lot quieter on the bear activity in the valley bottom and the bears can feel secure and warm in their dens, although there will be those that prefer to feed on late season spawning coho salmon around for a while yet.  Grizzly

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heavy November Snow

Well the flood warnings for the southern part of the coast aren’t being applied to the Central Coast, but I think they forget to let us know about a snowfall!  The morning started out at freezing with steady rain and by 9 AM had turned to snow and it didn’t stop all day.  Likely have 10-15 cm already in some areas.  Was planning on going cross country skiing at the East Branch XC trails, but road conditions on the hill weren’t looking good and my friend Tweeds over at Tweedsmuir Ski didn’t go up either due to the likelihood of a bunch of new snow and it takes a lot of work to get the trails all groomed again and that’s always more fun to do after the storm has passed.  A good day for inside chores. 

The berries in the photo are about all that’s left on the deciduous trees in the valley now – these berries are Mountain Ash (Sorbus sitchensis) and there was a large crop this year.  Normally they are all eaten by now by bears and American Robins, but they are not all gone yet.  Grizzly

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The day started with a nice cool morning -2o C, no wind and high cloud most of the day.  It gradually warmed up to 0 and then we got some sleet and rain around dinner time which went on throughout the evening.  It looks like the Central Coast will miss the worst of the latest pacific storm moving across the province.  This time it will dump a lot of rain on Vancouver Island and the mainland south of us.  Was a very stormy day on the coast, one light station had wind gusts of 132 km/h this morning (Bonilla Island), but it was nice and calm in the Bella Coola Valley.   Grizzly

Where is the Bella Coola Valley?

For those readers not familiar with the Bella Coola Valley, here is a map.  The Bella Coola Valley is in Western Canada, the Province of British Columbia.  Find Vancouver, go north about 400 km along the Coast Mountains towards Prince Rupert and you will run into the Bella Coola Valley.  The road access is east to Williams Lake, summer ocean access is via BC Ferries from Port Hardy on the Discovery Coast Route.  There is daily air service from Vancouver International Airport with Pacific Coastal Airlines.  If you put this lat/long (52 22.291 -126 45.120) into the 'Fly To' box in Google Earth, you will be in the village of Bella Coola which is located at the western terminus of the Bella Coola Valley.  Grizzly

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fine Day

A perfectly fine Bella Coola Coastal day.  We had a brief period through the night that brought heavy rain and a bunch more snow in the mountains.  The snowpack is looking really good in the Coast Mountains, but it’s also early enough that a ‘good’ snow pack can be really scary.  The Global News weather is talking about the dreaded ‘pineapple’ express next week, so keep an eye on that and hope it goes well south of us if it comes, but right now things are looking really fine and late fall like.

Most of the day had blue sky or very high cloud and no wind or precipitation, light frost this morning and -2.0o C this evening.  Grizzly

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fall Day

A nice day, with temperatures just below freezing in the morning.  Mostly a high (7000') cloud toward the west and some blue sky showing towards the east end of the valley.  It clouded over completely late in the afternoon and around dinnertime some light fine snow started but didn't amount to much.

The Bella Coola River is getting clearer and down to a nice level.  Hearing about a number of spots with Coho spawning in small creeks and so it is good we had such a large coho run, survivals might be okay in spite of the flood.

The picture is a good example of some of the fresh debris moved around during the highwater.  Grizzly

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

A nice November day in the afternoon.  Blue skies and frosty in the evening.  Most of the early November snow has been reduced to patches and a frosting here and there. River levels are returning to November normals. Grizzly

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chilcotin Cows

Would a trip through the Chilcotin to or from Williams Lake in the spring, summer or fall be really complete without cows on Highway 20?  I don’t think it would be.  It must be one of the last highways in BC that are shared with cows, and where it is accepted as so normal, that when you make a trip in the range season and don’t see cows on the road it seems odd.   Sure they can be a risk at night,  but it seems like it’s just something to watch for and they really represent what the Chilcotin and the Central Coast still provide – a place where things are different.

Over time the areas of open range are becoming less on the Bella Coola to Williams Lake trip and ranchers are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet, but before all the cows leave Highway 20, when you see one, be careful, enjoy the looks you get and think about the hard and historical way of life it represents. Grizzly

Saturday, November 7, 2009


An early winter, the first serious snow on the valley bottom arrived starting late on Friday afternoon and kept up through the night.  There were several wet inches by the morning.  November snow in the valley is not very nice, always wet sometimes it stays sometimes it goes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

El Nino?

In case you doubted the near home effects of the El Nino, have a read of this article from the North Island Gazette.  If Humbolt Squid are in Port Hardy, I'm a believer we are having an El Nino year.  As to what it means for the Central Coast and Bella Coola for the winter, I am not as sure.  I've been trying to research some of the past events to determine if we would likely experience wetter, drier, warmer or colder winter, but haven't found a pattern yet.

If today and this week are the trend then let's go with wet.  Today was a dark, dreary November day. Rain all day long, at times heavy, but the freezing level very low most of the day until around 5 PM when the freezing level hit the valley bottom and it turned to wet heavy snow, which it has been doing for the early evening.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Flood History

Last comment on floods this year (hopefully).

Here is an history of some notable flood events in the last 50 years in the Bella Coola Valley

  • Nov 3-4, 1950 180.3 mm - Flood isolated Hagensborg, plans for new bridge to Salloompt had to be altered.
  • Oct 16-21, 1965 183.1mm - Seven bridges and a section of road washed out.
  • Jan 23, 1965 - Rain on recent fresh snow and freezing level up to 10,000 feet. Two bridges washed out, Hagensborg flooded, telephone exchange knocked out. A Sikorsky helicopter was on standby to evacuate.
  • Jan 21-23 1968 157.5 mm - A total of 186cm of snow had fallen to date, likely snow on the ground of 50-80 cm in the valley, freezing level rose to 3400 metres.  Bella Coola River rose 11 feet. Large flood.
  • Sep 25-26, 1973 103.1 mm.  - Major change in the Big Bend of the river. Upstream of Tatsquan was cut off.  The old channel which had persisted for over a century was filled with sediment.
  • Oct 29 – Nov 1 1978 101.2 mm. - Rip rap at airport eroded, Wilderness Air float plane terminal in the river was damaged and dock area infilled with gravel, Burnt Bridge Creek overflowed along the highway, damage in Salloompt, damage in Thorsen Creek.
  • Dec 7-15, 1980 340.4 mm (7 days) - Airport flooded, highway closed, Nusatsum River flooded the dyke.
  • Sep 26-29, 1988 - 149.8 mm  Salloompt flooded
  • Nov 7,8, 2004 159.5 mm – Many forestry roads washed out.
Source: Rainstorm and Flood Damage Northwest British Columbia 1891-1991 and personal records.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Little Bit of Outflow Wind

After a nice clear day yesterday,the morning broke with a very high cloud and little bit of light outflow. Late in the afternoon it started to rain, apparently another system coming, but not of the intensity of the last one. Bella Coola River is down nearly two metres from it`s highest point in the lower valley and starting to return to a more normal green rather than brown.  The bed-load movement and gravel deposits must have been hard on recent salmon spawning in the the lower valley tributaries, but saw a coho spawning in one tributary today so not all is lost.

X-country skiers started skiing on the old road trail at East Branch today, about a foot of good snow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

7" of Rain!

Ed Note: In the first version of this posting I accidently used Bella Bella Airport which received 13" - Grizzly

The numbers are in and it's true, between Oct 28 - Nov 1 at the Bella Coola Airport they recorded 186 mm or approximately 7" of rain! Put this on top of freezing levels that went up very high with a recent snow pack and a flood is the result. Data is recovered from Environment Canada for the Airport.

It was a beautiful day in the valley, by mid day the residual low cloud cleared and blue sky and cool afternoon prevailed. Walking about and looking at places only a few days ago were either raging torrents or under a lot of water, today it seems calm and fresh. Describing to someone what the weather was like a few days ago who wasn't here loses something in the translation if you weren't there to experience and enjoy 186 mm of rain.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Snow in the Pass

Had to make a quick trip to Williams Lake today. It was snowing in Heckman Pass.  Looks like about a 15-20 cm snowpack and looking very wintery.

Noticed they replaced the 'local' unofficial sign with a proper sign marking the high point of the pass which looks very nice. Another damp day in Bella Coola.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Colours

The October foliage colours in the Bella Coola Valley were much better than most years this fall.  It must be the result of the very dry hot summer and relatively nice fall with a few cool days in early October.  Most years the Cottonwoods often drop their leaves while still green or only partially coloured, but this year it seems the extensive stands of valley bottom Cottonwood took on a very nice yellow while the birch in most cases was brilliant yellow.  The only thing missing were the reds that are characteristic of the vast eastern mixed hardwood stands, but all in all a nice bonus to the end of the summer. The rain of the last few days pretty much ended the fall colour display.