A snowy Peach in Penticton where very few were out walking in -15 C Dec. 30. (Monique Tamminga Western News)

Okanagan’s extreme weather patterns difficult to escape, meteorologist says

Kelowna recorded a well-below normal -24 C temperature on Wednesday (Dec. 29)

December has been a month full of wild weather changes in the Okanagan and according to experts, shifting out of those extremes isn’t so easy.

Well-below normal temperatures have been the norm in not just Southern B.C. but across Western Canada since Boxing Day.

In the eyes of Environment Canada meteorologist Brian Proctor, however, there’s a much bigger story from the recent cold snap that hasn’t yet been told.

“The one thing I will say about the past seasons is that we’ve had this very high-amplitude pattern. When we get these high-amplitude patterns, it’s often very difficult to shift out of it.”

Proctor referenced June’s heat dome, the atmospheric rivers in November and December’s cold snap as instances where high-amplitude patterns have caused extreme weather.

He also added that the cold air in B.C. caused by the high-amplitude patterns makes it difficult for him to think the weather will suddenly shift to more seasonal temperatures throughout the first half of winter.

“I wouldn’t put a ton of stock in it getting warmer (in the Okanagan), maybe getting more seasonal for the second half of winter, but it doesn’t look like it’s particularly going to get that much warmer than normal.”

The series of wild weather changes and unusual conditions is no surprise to Proctor — December’s winter blast across B.C.’s Interior isn’t an exception.

“It’s going to take something big for us to get out of it,” he said. “We do seem to be locked into that kind of pattern.”

Kelowna recorded a temperature of -24 C on Wednesday (Dec. 29), while Penticton, Summerland and Vernon have routinely hit numbers between -10 C and -18 C throughout the week.

Environment Canada projects 2021 to be a year where some communities in the Okanagan set record-low temperatures. Year-end summaries are set to be released in early 2022.

“When we do get these arctic outbreaks, they tend to occur ever so infrequently in the Okanagan Valley,” Proctor said. “But when they do occur, we often get multiple days of very cold temperatures. That’s what we’re experiencing now.”

READ MORE: Extreme cold: Record-breaking temperatures recorded in the Okanagan

READ MORE: Meteorologist looks back at extreme heat in June: ‘Worst weather event of my career’


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