City work crews are out pruning trees, some Kelowna residents have been donning flip flops and tulips are pushing their way out of the ground.
All the signs of spring have sprung, but February hasn’t even ended.
“So far temperatures are well above what we normally see for February,” said Lisa Coldwells, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.
“The reason for that is a broad scale upper ridge sitting over B.C.”
That upper ridge works sort of like an umbrella for the Southern Interior, she explained. It’s pushing up warmer temperatures from the southern part of the province
while shielding the region from weather across the mountain ridges that separate it from Alberta.
It’s meant that Kelowna had record breaking temperatures.
On Feb. 6 the temp was 11.6 C, which broke a record of 5.7 C on the same day in 2009. Next, on Feb. 8 mercury rose to 12.1 C, and broke the record of 8.6 C set that day in 1998. On Feb. 11, temperatures peaked at 9.2 C and that broke the old record of 7.6 C set in 1998.
Then things got really steamy. On Valentine’s Day temperature highs were 13.2 C, breaking a 9 C record set in 2003. Then, Feb. 15 temperatures came in at 10.7 C, breaking a record of 9.7 set in 1994.
While she wasn’t willing to predict further record breaking weather moments in the days ahead, Coldwells did say that the upper ridge is expected to stay over the region for another six days.
Then the upper ridge is expected to shift to the west, which will allow colder air from Alberta to seep through mountain passes and get into the area.
“We’re not talking about minus 25 C weather, but it’s back to normal high of around 4 C,” she said, noting that we’re running at three to four degrees warmer than usual.
All in all, the wonky weather has had a slightly chilling effect on the activity at the Stuart Park Ice rink.
Rising temperatures and sunny skies in the forecast indicate the outdoor rink could be closing over the next week.
“Crews have been doing their best to maintain the ice, but the warm weather makes it a challenge,” said Steve Fagan, arenas and stadiums supervisor.
“There’s no set closure date for the rink as we’re trying to keep it open for as long as possible, but I anticipate this will be the earliest closure in the past four years.”
That said, Kevin Laflamme, the owner of Bladez Skate Shop, said the year’s been pretty good, overall.
“We’ve had lots of visitors from around the world this year,” he said. Of particular note, he saw a number of Aussies and Germans come by.
The downside of the year, he said, was February. Between the excess snowfall and freezing temperatures skaters were fewer and farther between.
While bad weather had a downward effect on business, Laflamme is eager for next year’s season and expects it will be bigger and better.
With more development in Stuart Park set to be complete by next winter, Laflamme will grow his operation. Not only will he have skates and helmets for rent, he’ll also offer blade sharpening service in a trailer that’s four-feet longer than what he currently uses.
“We’ll be the only ones in the area who are sharpening skates,” he said. “It should make a big difference with business.”
For more information about Active Living and Culture programs and facilities, including public skating times at other ice rinks, visit kelowna.ca/recreation.