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Even weather forecasters are asking: Where has winter gone?

Where is the cold, snowy winter forecasters were prediciting two months ago? As we approach mid-January, there's no sign in the next few days of a change, and mixed messages coming from long term weather modelling.
January 09, 2021 - 7:00 AM

Kamloops and Okanagan residents aren’t the only ones wondering what has happened to winter as we make our way into the second week of January.

Early predictions of a snowy, cold winter have shaken forecaster models, leaving meteorologists less confident about the coming weather patterns for the remainder of winter than they were several months ago.

Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan says there’s normally less confidence in the early winter forecast of a couple of months ago than there would be now, but this year it’s been the other way around.

“The La Nîna we predicted normally doesn’t take hold until December or just after. We were looking at the second half of winter having a cold anomaly overwhelm the warmer conditions we’ve been experiencing, but it’s been pushed back,” Castellan says.

The most recent weather models indicate a warming trend coming to the Northwest Territories and northern British Columbia next week, with implications for warmer than normal temperatures to continue in Kamloops and the Okanagan.

This weekend’s weather is expected to be better on Saturday than on Sunday, with a few flurries in the forecast, but no significant accumulations expected. A cold front expected Tuesday could bring some snow and strong winds, but overall temperatures into next week and the middle of January are expected to be six or seven degrees above normal in Kamloops and the Okanagan.

Weekend temperatures for Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton should range from daily highs of -1 Celsius to 3 C, with lows ranging from -4 C to 0 C.

Normals for Kamloops for the second week of January are highs of -1 C and lows of -8 C.

Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton normally see daily highs of -2 C and lows of -8 C.

“We’re starting to lose confidence this moderate La Nîna is going to affect us at all. The American climate models suggest warmer conditions to the end of January, while Canadian and European models suggest a high pressure ridge could lodge itself over the Aleutian Islands, providing a more normal La Nîna setting,” Castellan says.

“Our confidence in seasonal models is a bit shaky now, but we do still believe colder conditions in late January through February look like a possibility,” he says.

Castellan says the delayed winter conditions could also mean a delayed spring. Colder conditions into March and April could mean a delayed and stronger spring freshet.

“There are some indications winter could be late to finish,” he says.

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