Environment Canada predicts warm start to March in Thompson-Okanagan, and at least average temperatures through the month

Warm spring expected

Spring has sprung in the Thompson-Okanagan, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist, who said the start of March heralds the beginning of milder weather for the region.

"It is the start of meteorological spring, it fits the calendar better than the astronomical, so it's the first day of spring and it sure feels like it here," Lundquist said, speaking from Kelowna.

"The outlook for the Okanagan and Thompson for the next week or so is generally quite a bit warmer than average."

Temperatures might head into the teens later this week in Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, he said, depending on what time of day the sun peeks out from behind clouds.

For the rest of the month and into the spring, Lundquist said he anticipates average temperatures if not more throughout the rest of the season.

He said climate models show an expected dip in temperatures in March, but he is wary of that, given the warm temperatures already predicted for the first week and how models predicted a colder winter and turned out wrong.

"I saw that with winter, it wanted to make us near average but we ended up warming. So I'm thinking there's something going on there, whether it's a bit of climate change or lack of sea ice, or warm waters in the Pacific off British Columbia, but there's something that's turning our temperatures more toward above average," he said.

Lundquist said winter was warmer than average in all of the Thompson-Okanagan, but precipitation levels varied. Kamloops was close to normal for precipitation, as was Penticton, but Kelowna and Vernon were drier, with half the precipitation of normal in those two cities.

"It was really, really cold in the month of February ... we were 1 to 2 degrees colder than average. But it wasn't cold enough to make our winter cold," he explained. "Our winter as a whole was quite easy on us."

For an outlook on precipitation in March, Lundquist can't provide a prediction farther in advance than about a week, though he said March is typically dry in the entire region.

"Spring and summer are dry, that's generally our life here in the Okanagan," he said.

As for differences between the Thompson area and Okanagan Valley, there aren't many this time of year, he added.

"The one difference is Kamloops has slightly more chance of frosty days, because their lake is smaller and Okanagan Lake tends to warm up our nights in the Okanagan," Lundquist explained.

The bottom line is citizens up and down the region can expect to kick of March with some much-needed Vitamin D and balmy breezes.

"We're forecasting 15 C on Friday in Kamloops, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same in Kelowna."

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