Flooding around Casorso Road in Kelowna on June 20. (Photo/Jen Zielinski)

Bring on the sunshine: Okanagan heat arrives ‘2 weeks early’

‘Any snow that is left will melt fast,’ says Doug Lundquist

Summertime heat in the Okanagan has arrived two weeks early, according to experts, who are now shifting their focus to the potential for rapid snowmelt as water levels continue to rise.

Emergency operations centres across the region were activated last week after Okanagan lake exceeded full pool due to increased rainfall.

But a rainy month of June seems to be in the rearview mirror, with temperatures expected to stay between a dry 23 C and 33 C through next week.

“The heat that we’re getting now typically doesn’t happen until July,” said Doug Lundquist, a meteorologist for Environment Climate Change Canada. “It’s two weeks early and any snow that is left will melt fast.”

June is the Interior’s wettest month of the year and precipitation data from 2022 indicates exactly that. A sudden shift in the weather pattern, however, has prompted an additional response from Penticton’s emergency operations centre.

“Warmer temperatures are forecast for the start of this week, while sporadic showers remain a possibility,” representatives from the city said on June 20. “Lake levels continue to rise and are expected to for the immediate future.”

The shift in weather patterns can be traced back to the beginning of June, though. Prior to this week, the warmest moments of the month came during “the first days,” according to B.C.’s River Forecast Centre.

“Warm weather was immediately followed by unsettled conditions in the South Interior, which contributed additional precipitation into observed river systems rises,” the provincial centre said in a June 15 report.

Rapid snowmelt, though, remains a cause for concern.

“Mission Creek (in Kelowna) has about a third of its average snowpack left, so there will be some snowmelt,” Lundquist said. “There is still snow in parts of the Southern Interior and I do believe there is a higher-than-average avalanche risk if you’re in the real high terrain.”

READ MORE: Monitoring for flooding as Okanagan Lake exceeds full pool


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