December weather in B.C.: Potential record-breaking highs then flurries in the same week, forecast suggests
In the latest of a string of bizarre weather events in B.C., parts of the province may see some of the warmest December temperatures on record Wednesday.
At about 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, Canada's hot spot was Penticton, where the temperature was 22.1 at the airport.
Summerland also saw high temperatures, and was temporarily Canada's hot spot at about noon when it was 20.4 C. Earlier in the day, Salmon Arm was the hottest place in the country at 16.8 C. The temperature in that city rose to 18 C by noon.
Environment and Climate Change Canada's warning preparedness meteorologist Armel Castellan said Wednesday that the province is dealing with "record-breaking heat."
"An atmospheric river not only brings moisture but it brings heat," he said. "Many records are being broken today for these temperatures."
Castellan said there's a chance records will be broken "for any day in December."
But the weather is expected to turn quickly over the next couple days in both cities. By Friday, Salmon Arm isn't expected to see temperatures higher than freezing and there's a 60 per cent chance of flurries overnight. In Summerland, it's not predicted to get warmer than 2 C on that day.
The warm weather comes as other parts of the province face the third in a trio of atmospheric rivers that have exacerbated flooding in communities across southern B.C. Along with heavy rain, officials warned freezing levels on local mountains would rise over the coming days, leading to more snowmelt and the risk of worsening flood conditions.
Experts have warned climate change will likely lead to more of these extreme weather events and natural disasters, like the recent string of atmospheric rivers.
"Climate change is obviously playing a role here, as we warm up the atmosphere and the ocean, we will see more moisture in the atmosphere," Rachel White, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of British Columbia, told CTV News Vancouver earlier this week.
Over the summer, the town of Lytton set an all-time Canadian temperature record of 49.6 C while the province was under a heat dome. The next day, a fast-moving wildfire tore through community, levelling everything in its path and claiming two lives.
Then in the fall, B.C. was hit by a historic "bomb cyclone," which led to dozens of ferry cancellations and power outages. Meteorologists say bomb cyclones are a rapidly intensifying storm that happens when a cold air mass collides with a warm one.
A couple weeks later, a tornado was recorded at UBC after a waterspout built up near Vancouver International Airport then eventually touched land.
As of Wednesday, dozens of weather warnings were still in place across the province as communities continued to recover from severe flooding.
"We've gone from some extremes to other extremes and unfortunately this is consistent with what climate change has been projecting for all parts of Canada," Castellan said.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ben Nesbit