December has been a record-setting weather month in Penticton and according to experts, there’s still more history to be written.
On the first day of the month, the city had set a national heat record for Dec. 1 with temperatures reaching 22 C. It took only five days for another record to be broken — this time though, it was in the form of snow.
Penticton saw 20.2 centimetres of snow fall on Monday, the most on a Dec. 6 day in the city since 1988.
From unusual heat to the year’s first real snowfall, things changed fast in the South Okanagan over the course of one week.
“It’s quite amazing that in a span of a week, we can go from those types of record temperatures to record snowfall,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson. “I think it’s a testament to just how strong those series of storms were in late November and early December and how much warm air they were bringing with them.
“As that warm air from the systems came inland, we saw record-breaking temperatures in the interior and record-shattering temperatures in Penticton, in particular.”
Monday’s (Dec. 6) 20.2 centimetres of snow ranks fourth for the most snowfall ever seen on a December day in Penticton, falling just short of the record set on Dec. 27, 1949 (22.1 centimetres).
The sudden weather changes in the South Okanagan have gotten the attention of meteorologists nationwide, including Coulson, who has watched the events unfold from afar in Toronto, Ont.
“The extremes have been really noticeable and really incredible,” he said. “What’s also of note is that so far this month, Penticton has recorded 27 centimetres of snow and the average snowfall for the whole month of December is 21.1 centimetres.”
And according to Environment Canada, there’s more where that came from.
“Right now, it looks like we have another system that’s going to come in for Friday (Dec. 10) to get more snow to the Okanagan,” Coulson added. “The forecast says that temperatures will remain seasonal or colder than seasonal as we head into the Christmas timeframe.”
In December of 1971, the city saw 96.8 centimetres of snowfall, the most ever in the final month of the year.
Still, in a year full of unexpected weather changes, breaking the all-time December record isn’t something Coulson is ruling out for Penticton.
“There’s a long way to go to get into those types of numbers, but certainty it’s something for folks to be aware of as we go through the coming weeks with the storm system expected Friday to bring some snow maybe even into Saturday.”