Kelowna just shivered through the second coldest February on the books.
Matt MacDonald, meteorologist for Environment Canada, said that the average temperature this month has been -7.4 C and the normal average temperature is -0.9 C. That means this month was 6.5 C colder than normal.
The coldest February on record was February 1975, when the average temperature hovered around -7.8 C.
“We are still stuck in it for a couple of weeks,” said MacDonald.
“People ask if March is coming in like a lion or a lamb, and I would say it’s coming in like a shivering lamb.”
The last couple of days haven’t been the chilliest, but a resurgence of really cold weather is just around the corner. This weekend temperatures are expected to drop to lows of -12 C and highs of 0 C or -1 C.
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“It will be 5 C below normal this weekend and we see a slight moderation in the middle of next week,” he said. “We are stuck in this cool-ish spell until March 10 or 11, and then temperatures will be above seasonal for the first time since late January.
What’s been exceptional over the last month or so is the persistence of Arctic Air, which has been breaking temperature records in the Interior and on the Coast.
It’s caused by a stagnant pattern in the jet stream, said MacDonald, noting that the jet stream is what separates the warm air of the south from the cold air of the north.
Usually it moves about and temperatures rise and fall, accordingly
As for what’s causing the stagnancy, MacDonald said that there’s some indication that it’s due to climate change.
As sea ice decreases, the arctic warms and there’s a reduction in atmospheric pressure gradient that extends up into the stratosphere. This creates what they call a lazy jet stream.
“It gets stuck in blocking patterns, which results in what you see in the summer with the prolonged dry spells, or what we’ve seen this winter,” he said.
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