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Winter's chill returning to South Okanagan

Steven Scroggie negotiates a section of the slack line stretched between two trees on the shore of Okanagan Lake much to the enjoyment of those taking advantage of one of the recent milder, sunny days in the Okanagan. Temperatures are expected to drop considerably in the coming week. - Mark Brett/Western News
Steven Scroggie negotiates a section of the slack line stretched between two trees on the shore of Okanagan Lake much to the enjoyment of those taking advantage of one of the recent milder, sunny days in the Okanagan. Temperatures are expected to drop considerably in the coming week.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

We all knew it was too good to last.

By the time you are reading this, the unseasonably balmy weather that Penticton and the South Okanagan have been enjoying will be just a warm memory.

“What’s kind of rare is we haven’t had a lot of cold air pushed down from the north. Over the next couple of days, that is finally going to happen,” said Matt MacDonald, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

These kind of warm events aren’t uncommon in October and November, but rarely show up as late as December.

“You’ve had daily highs of 8 to 10 degrees, even 11 degrees,” said MacDonald. “On Saturday, you guys broke a record in Penticton; it reached 11.2 C. The previous record was in 1949, so it was a good one.”

In normal years, the high this time of year is 0 C, with lows dropping down to -6 C. Those temperatures will be returning on Friday and through the weekend as the south flow that has been bringing warm air, rain and storms up from the southwest breaks down and arctic flows begin pushing into the region.

“It was widespread, the whole southern half of the province experienced a really mild November period,” said MacDonald. “The only people that have seen a taste of winter are up in Peace Country and down to Prince George. But the arctic air hasn’t been able to move farther south than that so far this season.”

That wet and warm November saw Penticton receive almost twice the amount of usual rain: 43 mm of total precipitation versus the normal of 27. However, only five centimetres of snow fell — on just three days of the month — compared to the normal eight centimetres.

“It was definitely a wet month, a lot of storms rolling through with that sustained circulation from the southwest,” said MacDonald. There is no good explanation, he said, for how the weather pattern came about.

“It’s just luck of the draw, we get stuck in these kind of blocking flow patterns,” he said. “There seems to be more records being broken every year and there has been a marked increase in severe weather events. Whether or not this is attributed to climate change is the question. By the atmosphere warming up, there is that much more energy available for storms to spawn.”

 

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