Get ready for a balmy winter right across the Okanagan and Shuswap.
After a mild December across the region, Environment Canada is forecasting warm temperatures to continue for the rest of the season.
In Kelowna, last December was the second warmest on record, while elsewhere in the Okanagan, the only cold snap of weather to hit was at the start of December when temperatures dipped to -5 C.
Environment Canada meteorologist Matt McDonald says this is due to winds coming from the southwest bringing warmer temperatures and possible El Niño conditions.
“We’ve been anticipating El Niño to hit later this winter since last fall, as there were early indications that El Niño would develop,” explained McDonald.
El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation and refers to the cycle of warm and cold temperatures, as measured by sea surface temperatures of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean.
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Temperatures are expected to be 3 to 5 C warmer than normal for this time of year, with precipitation 40 to 60 per cent of normal.
According to McDonald, both the Okanagan and Shuswap could see a weak disturbance in the forecast this weekend with temperatures dropping to -5 C on Saturday, then returning to above normal next week.
“The longer outlook for January is for milder conditions, with some possible snow over the weekend and into next week, but only a couple of centimetres, which likely won’t stick with the warmer temperatures that are forecast.”
Snow levels in the Okanagan-Shuswap are higher than average because of the warmer temperatures. However, according to the River Forecast Centre, snowpack for the Okanagan is 94 per cent of normal and 102 per cent of normal in Shuswap-Columbia.