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One year after record-breaking heat, Okanagan prepares for frigid start to winter

Below-average December temperatures follow the fourth coldest November in the region’s history
Okanagan Lake in Summerland. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Environment Canada says most of B.C.’s Interior will experience below-average temperatures for the first half of December, one year after the region smashed heat records and became the warmest spot in Canada.

Penticton recorded a high of 22.5 C on Dec. 1, 2021. Kelowna and Vernon didn’t fall far behind, breaking their own records for the day by posting temperatures in the late teens, respectively.

One year later, though, the three cities are experiencing daytime temperatures as low as -12 C, thanks in large part to one of the coldest Novembers on record.

“There’s really no sign of a really strong push from the Pacific yet, in terms of mild air,” said Trevor Smith, a meteorologist at Environment Canada. “So that, along with the third or fourth coldest November ever, has put us well below our averages for the start of December.”

In Kelowna on Thursday night, Dec. 1, temperatures that factor in the wind chill could feel as low as -19 C, a staggering departure from last year’s start to the month.

But the year-to-year shift doesn’t come as a surprise to Smith, who expects this year’s December temperatures to move closer to the region’s all-time averages as the new year approaches.

“Remember when the Interior had the heat to start December last year? Temperatures dropped to -20 C weeks later, and it turned out to be a relatively average December,” the meteorologist recalled. “I’m not saying we’re going to suddenly go to above-average temperatures, but I won’t rule out the possibility for a warmer shift to happen later in the month.”

Monthly averages in December for communities in the Interior range from -4 to 1 C.

READ ALSO: Cities in the Okanagan set national heat records

Environment Canada recognizes the start of winter once the calendar flips to December. As of the first day of the month, temperatures in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton are expected to reach as low as -17 on Sunday night, Dec. 4.

There is limited snowfall in the forecast, with the exception of Friday night, Dec. 2.

After the first 10 days of the month, however, Smith anticipates some relief from the frigid atmosphere.

Environment Canada models are calling for a “warmer flow from the Pacific” to hit the Okanagan by next Wednesday or Thursday, moving region-wide temperatures closer to -4 C.

“I’m fairly confident in saying that for the entire month, we’ll just be a little bit below average based on this really cold start,” Smith said.

After a warmer-than-normal October, most of the Okanagan experienced below-average November temperatures. Overall, it was considered a “just average” fall season, with Penticton recording a three-month average of 9.2 C. Its normal fall temperature, dating back to the early 1900s, is 9 C.

READ ALSO: Six temperature records set in B.C. on Thanksgiving Day

READ ALSO: Heavy snowfall, strong winds forecasted for most of the Okanagan


About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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