It’ll stay unseasonably cold and wet for the rest of May, but by mid-June, temperatures are expected to return to normal.

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It might be late spring, but the BC south coast seems frozen in mid-winter conditions as snow blanketed highways and chilly temperatures and a deluge of rain broke more than a dozen weather records across the region.

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Several areas set record low daily temperatures on Thursday, when a cold front swept in on the heels of an unstable air mass, bringing rain, winds and cold conditions.

Metro Vancouverites were shivering in their raincoats, with a daytime high of only 10.5 degrees Celsius, beating the previous record of 11.1 C set in 1964.

In West Vancouver, temperatures peaked at 8.9 C, a touch below the 9 C set in 1986.

On Vancouver Island, Nanaimo and Port Alberni shattered records set more than a century ago. Records were also broken in Sechelt, Qualicum Beach and Powell River, which also received record rainfall.

Powell River got the heaviest soaking, with 45.5 mm of rain falling Thursday, surpassing the 23.8 mm set in 1988.

Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast received more than 32mm, more than the previous record of 29mm also set in 1988.

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Overnight, up to 10 cm snow fell on southern Interior highways and mountain passes, with more on the way.

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Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a slew of special weather statements on Friday for the Coquihalla Highway from Hope to Kamloops and Kelowna, the Okanagan Connector, Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton in the Similkameen and Highway 3 from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass in the Kootenays .

Environment Canada meteorologist Brian Proctor said the unusually cold spring can be chalked up to La Niña, which was responsible for the dreary and cold weather in the winter and is now delaying the onset of spring.

“When we come out of La Niña weather, there’s usually a slow recovery toward spring,” Proctor said, noting snowpack in the mountains are about three weeks behind normal.

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“La Niña has locked us in the throes of dealing with the residual cold air locked in the atmosphere.”

La Niña is starting to wane, and that couldn’t come soon enough for avid gardeners.

At Hunter’s Garden Center in Vancouver, the unseasonably cold spring has meant a quieter start to gardening season.

“Normally in the spring, people are putting about… but not this season so far,” said store manager Laura Doheny. “People come in and get what they need. We are quietly missing the lingering.”

Doheny estimates gardening season is about two to three weeks behind normal. Some plants and vegetables — especially heat-loving tomatoes and peppers — can’t be planted outdoors yet as the soil hasn’t warmed up enough.

“There’s usually ‘Juneuary’ which we all laugh about, but often we would have had a nice April or most of May,” she said. “We’ve really had a sustained cold period and that makes it really difficult. You put your hand into the soil, and you can feel it. It’s cold.”

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Proctor expects the rest of May — including the coming Victoria Day long weekend, typically a kick-off for summer weather and road trips — to be a write-off for warmer temperatures, but said things should return to normal by mid- to late- June.

“It’s looking like a normal set of summer conditions,” he said. “We just need to get through what people call the May-June gloom this time of year.”

A screenshot of Highway 5, southbound at the Zopkios rest area near the Coquihalla Summit on May 13.
A screenshot of Highway 5, southbound at the Zopkios rest area near the Coquihalla Summit on May 13.

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