A brief break from the extreme Okanagan heat appears to be on the way but that doesn’t mean it’s bound to be an ordinary cool-down session.
After a week of temperatures ranging between 35 C and 39 C, experts are calling for potential thunderstorms and cooler days in the region starting on Thursday, a common summertime pattern immediately after a heat wave.
“It’s a pattern we see every summer but it could be a dangerous pattern, too,” explained Bobby Sekhon, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. “Having all that heat dry out everything and with lots of energy in the atmosphere…once we get cold air moving in destabilizing the atmosphere, it can cause some pretty intense thunderstorms and lightning.”
Temperatures across Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm are expected to drop as low as 18 C ahead of the weekend, with precipitation numbers forecasted to vary across the region.
“Even with this coming event with tomorrow, we’re not expecting a lot of precipitation in the South Okanagan but in places like Vernon and Salmon Arm, that’s when you could see a few millimetres of precipitation,” Sekhon said.
The B.C.-based meteorologist added that thunderstorms, lightning and wind gusts are all common occurrences once a heat wave ends.
Still, people in the Okanagan shouldn’t expect the higher-than-average temperatures to be a thing of the past quite yet.
“There’s still a lot of summertime left,” Sehkon said. “It’s looking like we’re coming right back to the 30s next week and it’s still in the realm of possibility that the heat warnings will come back.”
Though thunderstorms and lightning are always noteworthy, experiencing the occurrence after a significant heat wave is what people in the Okanagan should be most concerned about ahead of Thursday morning, according to Sekhon.
“Anytime you have such a dry period followed by lightning, it can be concerning,” he said.
After Wednesday’s high of 31 C in Penticton, meteorologists are forecasting an eight-degree drop and a 30 per cent chance of showers by Thursday.
Contrary to the Peach City, people in the Central and North Okanagan, as well as in the Shuswap, can expect a higher chance of showers and about a six-degree drop in temperature.
“When the thunder roars, get indoors,” Sekhon reminded.