La Nina leading to a wet, cooler spring

The fabled La Nina has brought a mixture of good news and bad news to the Okanagan this year.

The fabled La Nina has brought a mixture of good news and bad news to the Okanagan this year.

Forecast to cause winter weather that would be several degrees colder than normal to this region, La Nina is a colder-than-normal stream of ocean flows from South America that impacts weather throughout the Pacific.

Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist says this past winter featured temperatures that were very close to normal throughout the Okanagan.

In Kelowna, the normal average temperature for winter is -2.6 C with 90mm of precipitation; this year the average was -2.3 C with 80 mm of precipitation.

Lundquist says the effects of La Nina are expected to last for a further three months, although it is weakening.

That means we should expect a cooler and wetter spring than last year.

According to his “probabalistic forecast,” Lundquist says there’s a 60 per cent chance that April, May and June will be colder than average, and he expects it will be wetter than normal.

However, snowpack in the Okanagan is below normal, at an average of 88 per cent of normal as measured March 1.

Lowest in the Okanagan is the snowcourse measured at Oyama Lake, which is at 56 per cent of normal.

For other watersheds,  Mission Creek, which is the largest, is at 85 per cent of normal; McCulloch is five per cent above normal; Postill Lake is at 91 per cent of normal; the two snowcourses in the Brenda Mine area are at 83 and 91 per cent of normal; Islaht Lake is at 83 per cent of normal; Esperon Creek is at 74 per cent of normal; and Whiterocks is at 87 per cent.

Staff in the water management branch at Penticton are releasing less than the normal amount of water from Okanagan Lake in expectation of a snowmelt that is lower than normal, with the goal to fill the lake by June, when most of the snow has melted and run off into the lake.

This information was shared in an Okanagan Basin Water Board webinar Tuesday that featured presentations from federal and provincial staff from around the province who monitor weather, snowpack and water levels.

Temperatures this week are forecast to rise to a high of 12 C on Sunday, with overnight lows of -3 C on Thursday expected at the Kelowna airport.


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