If it seems more like early spring than winter in the Shuswap, you are not far off.
Salmon Arm and Sicamous spent December and now into January with much warmer, drier weather than usual.
“Mild is certainly the word,” says Doug Lundquist, Environment Canada meteorologist for the region.
At the Shuswap Lake recording station, December temperatures averaged -1°C, while the normal average would be -3°C.
“A variance of three degrees from normal is getting quite significant,” says Lundquist. “The temperature difference is not as pronounced in the southern Okanagan and Kelowna, but as you move into the Shuswap and even farther north, the difference is even more significant.”
In addition to the warm temperatures has been the lack of moisture. The lake recording station has only notched 19.2 mm of precipitation over December, while the normal would be 72 mm. Snowfall at the airport monitoring station is also showing the same trend. That station recorded about half the normal snowfall level.
Some forecasters were predicting a colder than normal winter due to the effects of La Niña, where the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3 to 5 °C. Lundquist says winters have been getting milder since the mid-1980s, so this may have cancelled out the La Niña effect.
He says more likely than a cold winter is a higher probability of a cool spring.
But residents should prepare for a swing back to more normal temperatures from mid-week on.
The current forecast is calling for a cold front to bring high temperatures to -3°C and lows to -8°C.