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‘Arctic blast’ to sweep Okanagan, Shuswap with -20 C temperatures

From mild to wild: Extreme cold will stick around until Jan. 15
The iconic Penticton Peach by Okanagan Lake on Jan. 9, 2024. Tempertures across the region are set to plummet, following the season’s first “arctic blast.” (Logan Lockhart/Black Press)

Environment Canada says a significant “arctic blast” will sweep through the Okanagan and Shuswap as early as Wednesday evening, Jan. 10.

Daytime tempertures will plummet to -10 to -17 C and overnight lows are expected to flirt with marks of around -20 C, from Jan. 11 to 15, as a result.

“It’s really into Thursday (Jan. 11) where we’ll see those temperatures significantly below normal,” Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau said, adding that the Okanagan will experience daytime highs of between -12 C to -15 C through the weekend. “It’s definitely going to feel extremely cold to people, especially because we haven’t seen anything like it this season.”

Overnight temperatures in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Salmon Arm are expected to hit lows of -20 on Thursday, Jan. 11. That’s around 12 degrees colder than it usually is at this time of year, Charbonneau said.

This week’s cold snap comes after a warmer-than-normal start to winter. Cities in the region, particularly Vernon, have felt the impact of the El Niño weather phenomenon since June, resulting in a notably mild and dry December.

“What we’ll see here with the cold isn’t unusual for this time of year,” the meteorologist added. “I think what was unusual was just how warm December really was.”

Below-seasonal temperatures are on their way, but it appears the Okanagan will actually avoid the worst of what’s to come in some parts of B.C.

On Tuesday, Environment Canada issued a forecast note stating parts of the province could welcome overnight temperatures of between -30 C and -40. Charbonneau says those frigid marks are most likely reserved for across the Cariboo region and towards Prince George.

“For the Okanagan, it’s not looking quite that cold, however, we haven’t seen anything close to this so it’s going to be a big change.”

Unlike the drier and warmer-than-normal marks set in 2023, cold temperatures in the region this week are not expected to be record-breaking for this time of year.

Kelowna, for instance, recorded a temperature of -25.6 C on Jan. 12, 1950. That still stands as the city’s daily minimum for that day, the meteorologist said.

“At this point, the lows we’re going to see aren’t in record-breaking territory yet, but you can’t rule it out until we get through this week,” Charbonneau added.

Beyond Monday, Jan. 15, Environment Canada says temperatures will begin to “moderate” and return closer to seasonal.

“It doesn’t look like this extreme cold is going to last through next week,” Charbonneau said. “Still, we’re in for four days of very cold weather.”

Snowfall, meanwhile, remains in the forecast for Kelowna and Vernon on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Both cities could see another 2 to 4 centimetres fall through the night.

A 30 to 60 per cent chance of flurries remains penned for Penticton through Friday, Jan. 12.

READ MORE: Trio of Okanagan Highways continue to have winter storm, snowfall warnings

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About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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