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Expect an average winter in the Thompson-Okanagan

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October 12, 2016 - 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - Environment Canada is forecasting an averge winter in the Thompson-Okanagan thanks to slightly warmer ocean surface temperatures off the coast of Peru.

Environment Canada meteorologist Ross Macdonald says temperatures are likely to be a bit above average this winter and precipitation will be fairly close to normal. The forecast in the spring of 2016 predicted a colder La Nina winter with more precipitation than average, but that's no longer expected.

“Typically with La Nina we see temperatures that are below the average,” he says. “That signal for La Nina has weakened.”

La Nina is a weather system phenomenon that usually follows the more well known El Nino, bringing a colder, wetter fall and winter. Last year was an El Nino year, Macdonald says, but the signs of La Nina following are no longer there.

A La Nina winter is caused by cooler than normal ocean surface temperatures off the coast of Peru affecting the weather-carrying jet stream. The jet stream which flows above central B.C. can move farther north or south depending on those ocean surface temperatures. The cold patch of ocean that was measured in the spring of 2016 isn’t as cold as expected anymore, meaning the La Nina effect is going to be weaker and the jet stream won’t be affected as much.

Additionally, ocean surface temperatures off the west coast of Canada are currently higher as well, which will affect the interior of the province.

“A lot of our weather comes from the west,” Macdonald says. 

This all adds up to Environment Canada being confident a slightly warmer winter is on its way for the Thompson-Okanagan without the heavy amounts of snow predicted earlier in the year.

“Skiers and snow enthusiasts get excited when we forecast a La Nina,” he says. “Given the fact we’ve backed away from that it may not be as favourable for that.”

However, he does add there will still be a good amount of snow at the ski hills in the Southern Interior.

"I would say we’re still going to see some snow on the mountains," he says. "It might be a bit of a happy medium there."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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