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Coldest weather still to come and ‘pretty good’ chance of white Christmas in Okanagan

In the lead-up to Dec. 25, the region will get its most significant cold spell yet
Daytime temperatures in the Okanagan will reach highs of -7 C starting on Friday, Dec. 16, according to Environment Canada. (Jacqueline Gelineau/Capital News)

If you thought the first week of December was cold in the Okanagan, Environment Canada says you haven’t seen anything yet.

Temperatures categorized as “well-below average” will sweep through B.C.’s Interior for the next seven days, with Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon all expected to exceed lows of -10 C.

“The arctic air mass forecast is going to dominate the Interior,” said Trevor Smith, a meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada. “It’s going to be a colder brand of air than what we saw at the beginning of the month…definitely the coldest it’s been yet.”

Starting Friday, daytime highs are forecasted to reach -7 C in all three aforementioned cities.

But the thought of what could come 24 hours later may shape the holiday season for many. A 60 per cent chance of flurries is consistent with all Okanagan forecasts from Sunday, Dec. 18, through Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Those hoping to see white dust on the ground when they look out their windows on Dec. 25 are in for a good day, as a result, according to experts.

“There’s a pretty good chance we’re going to have a white Christmas,” Smith said. “I only think we’ll get one or two centimetres of snow if anything, from Sunday to Tuesday, but it’s going to be cold enough where it won’t melt and it will stay on the ground through the holiday.”

There’s a difference, however, between a “white Christmas” and a “perfect Christmas.” The chance of Okanagan communities experiencing the latter is unlikely.

Per Environment Canada’s definition, a “perfect Christmas” features at least two centimetres of snow on the ground in the morning, as well as new snowfall during the day.

A white Christmas, meanwhile, requires just two centimetres of snow to be ground on Christmas morning starting at 4 a.m. PST.

Since 1955, Kelowna has had a 64 per cent chance of experiencing a white Christmas, while Penticton’s probability is much lower at 31 per cent. Data for Vernon was not available.

The Okanagan’s frigid start to the month, combined with the anticipated cold spell over the next seven days, is putting this December on track to be amongst the coldest ever.

According to Smith, the expected “mild push from the pacific” has yet to sweep through the valley. Instead, the arctic influence has remained persistent, dating back to late November.

“When it’s all set and done, the month averages will be quite as a bit below what it usually is, especially given what’s going to be happening in the next seven days,” Smith says.

READ MORE: One year after record-breaking heat, Okanagan prepares for frigid start to winter


About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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