Penticton opens cooling centres as heat wave settles in



Extreme high temperatures are expected this week and the City of Penticton is extending hours at several facilities starting today.

“We want to ensure everyone is safe during this period and providing cooling centres is a way to help residents and visitors beat the heat,” says Anthony Haddad, the director of the City’s Emergency Operations Centre.

“We’re extending the hours at civic facilities to assist people who need a place to cool down.”

The extended hours are at the following facilities:

  • South Okanagan Events Centre (835 Eckhart Avenue) will be open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Penticton Community Centre (325 Power Street) will be open between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
  • Penticton Public Library auditorium and lobby (785 Main Street) will be open 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Penticton Seniors’ Drop-in Centre (2965 Main Street) will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Water will be available at those locations as well, and bylaw enforcement and community safety officers will be carrying water for those in need

More community resources and tips on dealing with the heat are available here.

Residents and visitors who may have questions about available resources can call also call 250-490-2400 for assistance finding resources.

The City has activated its Emergency Operations Centre if further response is required.

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for Interior British Columbia. Temperatures in Penticton are expected to reach 38 C this week.

Revelstoke man sparks online search for answers to strange patterns in snow

Mysterious pattern in snow

A Revelstoke man has kick-started an online brain teaser/mystery recently after he posted a picture of an unusual pattern on the snow in front of his house.

Mike Thomas posted the photo online with the caption, “anyone know what causes dimples in the snow? Fun answers only.”

Thomas took the photo on Feb. 26 and says the weather was just above freezing overnight. There had been a bit of snow and rain the day prior, “don’t think there was much wind, sky was broken clouds.”

Castanet reached out to Environment Canada meteorologist Terri Lang to see if there was a simple explanation, “my first thought is that it looks like small hailstones could have fallen on some fresh snow, given how nicely spaced out the holes are.”

We shared Environment Canada’s response with Thomas, “Ha! The actual scientific answer eluded me, not that I was looking for that with this post! But this same phenomenon was on flat roofs etc. all over town, so it is more likely something about the snowpack melting and solar influence.”

Theories and possible explanations continued to pour in and that is what Thomas says was the best part of the experience.

“I’m just glad it got a whole segment of the community having some fun with their imagination, and pausing to see something as mundane as snow on my front lawn differently.”

Most of the online responses were lighthearted and it sounds like Thomas achieved his goal of entertaining during what has been a long COVID-19 winter.

“This thread has made me happy with creative ideas,” he said, ranging from “angel tears” to “mice on pogo sticks.”

FortisBC urging people to prevent heat loss, use less energy

Temps down, energy up

It’s cold outside and expected to get colder, so FortisBC is encouraging people to pay attention to energy usage.

Typically, January is the coldest part of the year and with many people spending more time at home as a result of COVID-19, more energy will be used during those cold days and weeks.

“Because the majority of energy used in B.C. at this time of year is for heating, our customers tend to experience their highest energy bills after periods of colder winter temperatures,” said Michelle Carman, director, customer service, FortisBC.

“That means any heat loss is an opportunity for energy savings, so steps taken to detect and reduce heat loss could help you stay more comfortable while also saving some money on your energy bill.”

FortisBC’s records show last winter’s peak use for both its natural gas and electricity services occurred on Jan. 14.

According to Environment Canada, temperatures dropped below -10 C in the Lower Mainland, and lower than -30 C in places like Prince George. As a result, natural gas use was up more than 75 per cent across the province as compared to an average January day.

Electric use was also up by four per cent over the coldest week from the previous year.

FortisBC historically sees demand for natural gas, the most commonly used energy for space heating, triple in the winter compared to the summer months. On average, customers who use electricity for home heating increase their use by approximately 80 per cent in the winter months.

There are a number of low cost and no cost ways to lower energy use in homes, including:

  • sealing gaps and cracks around windows and doors to prevent heat loss,
  • turning down the heat in unused rooms can also save on space heating,
  • cleaning furnace filters and vacuuming out baseboard heaters to help ensure the heating system is working as efficiently as possible, and
  • installing a programmable thermostat.

To learn more about how seasonal weather can affect bills and ways to reduce energy consumption, click here.

Environment Canada issues winter warning for local highways

More snow on the way


UPDATE: 11:35 a.m.

While the snow falling on the Valley bottom has tapered off Friday morning, more is expected to fall at higher elevations through the day.

Environment Canada is calling for upwards of 35 centimetres of snow to fall on the Coquihalla through Saturday morning, while Highway 3 from the Paulson Summit to Kootenay pass is expected to see 30 cm.

Local roads were slick during Friday morning’s commute, and a serious multi-vehicle crash on Highway 97 in Lake Country caused large delays for motorists. The condition of those involved is unknown at this time.

This is good news for local ski resorts, where heavy snow has been adding some much needed depth to the snow base. Big White had 25 cm fall overnight, bringing their base to 68 cm. Opening day is scheduled for Nov. 26, if Mother Nature continues to cooperate.

Meanwhile, in the Valley bottom, showers are expected throughout the day, possibly turning back to snow Friday evening. Sun and clouds are expected Saturday, followed by more snow Sunday and Monday.

ORIGINAL: 7:25 a.m.

Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for many of the mountain passes in the province including the Coquihalla Highway from Hope to Merritt and Highway 3, from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass.

The Okanagan Connector is in slightly better shape but Environment Canada is still calling for five to 10 centimetres this afternoon and into the night.

Travellers are advised that hazardous winter conditions are expected as a Pacific storm moves across the B.C. Interior today. Heavy snow will persist over the Coquihalla Highway from Hope to Merritt with the heaviest accumulation expected this afternoon. Snow will taper off to flurries this evening as the system departs. The snow level will rise to 700 metres this afternoon.

Additional snowfall of 25 to 35 cm can be expected by Saturday morning.

More thunder on the way

Environment Canada has issued another severe thunderstorm watch in effect for the entire Okanagan Valley including Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton.

According to Environment Canada, “conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms that may be capable of producing strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain.”

Severe thunderstorm watches are issued when atmospheric conditions are favourable for the development of thunderstorms that could produce one or more of the following: large hail, damaging winds, torrential rainfall.

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued Thursday as well along with the possibility of heavy downpours and the threat of flash flooding and water pooling on roadways.

Temperatures in Kelowna to hit double digits by the weekend

Sunshine in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)

Kelowna is expected to hit a high 13 degrees on Friday, April 3

While the province of British Columbia has essentially shut down, apart from essential services in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, many can feel deflated, bored or even depressed.

Fortunately, there is some good news to smile about.

Kelowna is heating up and there is no better excuse than to get outside and get some fresh air, while of course practicing social distancing.

According to Environment Canada, Kelowna is expected to hit highs of 9 degrees throughout the week and 13 degrees by the weekend.

Sure, today’s forecast could be better, but here’s a look at the rest of the week.