Environment Canada is projecting a 50 per cent chance of a colder than average winter season in the Central Okanagan, but one of the agency’s meteorologists is skeptical of that long-term forecast.
“This year, more than ever, because of various reasons, I have less faith in that outlook than I usually do,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist.
The first factor he cited was the inconsistency that comes with projecting the long-range forecast for the fall and the winter seasons during this time of year due to hurricane season.
“It’s hurricane and typhoon season — all we need is a big typhoon and the pattern of the whole weather around the planet can change,” said Lundquist.
The second factor he said was Environment Canada’s projected weak La Niña — a weather pattern that can occur every few years in the Pacific Ocean.
“La Niña often means, for us, colder than average winters,” he said. “But usually you have to have enough water or a strong La Niña to really say that.”
He cited warmer temperatures as a result of climate change as the third factor that’s fuelling his doubt about a projected colder than average winter season.
“Climate change is a number that goes in the opposite direction. Climate change is bringing us a warmer world. La Niña would be a colder winter,” he said.
“On Dec. 1, we might have a better idea. But this year, more than ever, there’s a lot of competing things.”
According to Lundquist, the monthly average temperatures in Kelowna for October is 7 C, November is 2 C, December is -3 C, January is -3 C and February is -1 C.
He added that much of the province is in a “more normal weather pattern than ever,” after a summer plagued by an unprecedented heat wave that he described as “not really normal.”
“It’s a little not normal on the coast in the sense that it’s been extraordinarily rainy, but for us here in the Interior, it’s a little cooler than average and a little rainier. It’s just normal,” he said.
While there’s not yet snow on the ground in the Okanagan Valley, he said that winter in the high terrain areas, such as highway passes, has already begun and is here to stay.
“People need to shift into the winter mode for the high terrain,” he said. “In this season coming up, this is where we can save more Canadian lives and costs to our vehicles and stress levels by being more aware and safer on roads in the wintertime.”