Meteorologist says May was colder than normal in Okanagan, but urges readiness in case of looming heat

Cold spring, but heat looms

It was a colder and drier May everywhere in the Okanagan Valley up to Kamloops, and weather trends look like more of the same is on the way — but possible looming heat events should not be discounted.

Doug Lundquist, meteorologist with Environment Canada, said temperatures didn't reach their monthly average overall at any of the weather stations in the cities.

Penticton was 1.8 C below average, Kelowna close to 2 C below, and Vernon 1.1 C below.

"Pretty much that's the story for everywhere from Kamloops down to the border. Colder than average, and drier than average," Lundquist said.

It may have seemed more rainy than usual, but Lundquist attributed that to gloomy skies and the chill in the air.

"When it's cold, we tend to think it's rainy. If it's warm and rainy, it evaporates faster. When it's cold and rainy you'll see it on the ground, it's damper. But it was cold and dry," he said.

"Even though it was cold and dry, it still felt wet, but it truly wasn't."

Lundquist said this is the first May since 1991 that Penticton, as an example, has not seen a single day reach 25 C or above.

And "cooler than average" looks to be the trend overall for the summer. But Lundquist says that is not guaranteed, and people should prepare now in case of a heat dome similar to last summer.

"The computer models are hinting at a possible extreme heat event for Northern California and Southern Oregon. And that's just a little too close for comfort. That's a long ways away yet, but I just do worry that even if we have colder than average summer, say July and August end up cold, but we have another heat event. We have to prepare now for the possibility of heat," Lundquist said.

"Not only would that affect our fire weather, but it would also perhaps get the freshet, what's left, going. So we're not out of the woods."

Lundquist hopes Interior residents will use this time before the potential heat comes to make sure they are ready.

"We do really need to change our attitude towards watching the vulnerable when we get heat. Even in the Okanagan, people do succumb to the heat," Lundquist said.

"It's not likely to happen every year but let's be ready for anything Mother Nature decides to give us."

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