Western News Staff
Does it feel like the new year is starting off a bit warmer than usual? Don’t expect it to last very long, as Environment Canada’s 14-day forecast is predicting a cold front moving in, bringing with it temperatures below -10 C.
Let’s compare this month’s weather prediction to that of previous years, to see what we might be looking forward to.
Last year, according to the Government of Canada’s weather records, Penticton averaged highs of 2.9 degrees and lows of -2.7, with a maximum of 9 and a minimum of -8.9, with just 4.4 millimetres of rain and 23 centimetres of snow for the month.
In 2018, the city averaged a high of 2.8 degrees and a low of -1.2, with the highest recorded temperature being 7.6 and the lowest -13.5, with 25.5 mm of rain, and 20.4 cm of snow.
“We’ve had a pretty mild start to the new year, and those above-average temps are expected to continue for a while yet,” said Bobby Sekhon, a meteorologist with Environment Canada. “Our midrange models have colder weather moving into B.C. midway through the month, around Jan 10 to 17, with below-average temperatures. There’s some probability for that.”
By these predictions, more snow is on its way before the end of the month, if the weather holds true to history.
This is only for the past two years, but what about looking back even further?
In January 2000, the start of the millennium, Penticton averaged highs of 1.6 degrees and lows of -0.8. The highest recorded temperature that month was 6.8 degrees, and the lowest was -11.9. That’s a drop of more than one degree for the average high and two degrees for the average low. The weather was a bit wetter compared to more recent years, with 31.1 mm of rain and 26 cm of snow across the month.
Fifty years ago, January in Penticton was fairly cool, with the average high a flat zero C, and the average low -6.6. In 1970, the highest temperature was 5.6 degrees, and the lowest a chilling -14.4. There was plenty of rain and snow that year, with 52.3 mm of rainfall, and 43.8 cm of snow.
Strange weather isn’t just a recent phenomenon, either. Going back 100 years to the beginning of the Roaring Twenties in a very different looking Penticton, the highest recorded temperature was a warm 12.8 degrees. That was an outlier, as that year the average high temperature was only -0.3 degrees, with an average low of -6.5. That year there was only 3.4 mm of rain over the city, with most of the precipitation coming down as 30.7 cm of snow over the month.
Whether the winter as a whole will be warmer than in previous years, that won’t be clear yet for another month.
“December was warmer than normal, not in the top ten, but the daily mean was 1.8 degrees above normal,” said Sekhon. “It was slightly warmer than historical normals, which are from data taken from 1980 to 2010. January is starting kind of warm in the first few days, and it’s expected to cool down mid-month. So we’re really looking at February to see how the winter turns out.”
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