Freezing rain a rare weather event in the Okanagan - InfoNews

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Freezing rain a rare weather event in the Okanagan

Freezing rain covers the windshield and windows of a vehicle in Penticton, Friday, Jan. 5, 2017.
January 05, 2018 - 11:27 AM

PENTICTON - Residents of the Okanagan need to wary of driving and walking conditions for the next few days as a weather system over the region could produce localized patches of freezing rain.

Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist says motorists and pedestrians need to be aware of bare pavement and sidewalks as places where freezing rain has the potential to make things slippery.

“Even on snow it can be slippery, but at least there’s snow below," Lundquist says. "There also may be enough product on roads being treated to keep the rain from freezing, but we do have freezing rain warning out for the Okanagan today."

He say the freezing rain may be worse in the South Okanagan than in the rest of the valley because the cold air coming up from Central Washington State will be modified by Okanagan Lake, by the time the air gets to Kelowna or Vernon.

"As the day goes by, it’ll warm up a bit, and down by the lake it will probably turn to a rain and snow mix, but in the South Okanagan there may be some decent periods of freezing rain for an extended period of time,” Lindquist says, adding the Similkameen and Highway 3 could be hardest hit.

Freezing rain warnings and travel advisories have been issued a big swath of the southwest Interior today.

He says the weather pattern is expected to last over the weekend and doesn’t have a lot of precipitation associated with it.

Lundquist says the Okanagan doesn’t experience many freezing rain events, perhaps on average once every five years and takes a pretty interesting set of weather events for it to happen.

“First we need an extended period of cold weather, which we’ve experienced since before Christmas, then we had two significant dumps of snow and during the last heavy snow we had warm air trying to override it, but the cold air was deep enough it came down as snow," he says.

Over the last couple of days the cold air was scoured out, except in the valley bottoms and that is why we are getting the freezing rain.

"It’s falling as snow, turning to rain in the warm air above, then it supercools again. When it touches the ground or any object, it refreezes instantly.”

Lundquist says we often get winds associated with warming temperatures that completely scour the cold air out of the valley, but this time we didn't get the wind so the cold air has lingered longer than normal.


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