If you live in the Lakes District, you’ve most certainly noticed the colder than usual temperatures over the past 10 days.
Although Burns Lake usually sees highs of – 3 C and -4 C, and overnight lows of -10 C and -11 C at this time of the year, over the past 10 days Burns Lake has seen temperatures 10 to 15 degrees below average.
“A cold arctic air mass has come down from Alaska and the Yukon and it’s come through the Burns Lake area,” explained Ross MacDonald, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.
MacDonald said this arctic air mass has spread throughout the province, even affecting southern parts of the province such as Vancouver.
“It’s across B.C., so you’re not alone,” he said.
Although these arctic air masses bring colder than average temperatures, they are not uncommon in B.C., which experiences them usually twice a year. These air masses usually last one to two weeks.
“We’ll have to see how this one plays out,” said MacDonald.
When asked if Burns Lake will have a white Christmas this year, MacDonald said that at this point there’s “not a lot of snow” headed to Burns Lake, just cold temperatures.
However, looking at statistics from Prince George, over the past few decades the region has had a 90 per cent chance of seeing a white Christmas.
“You can probably apply these statistics to Burns Lake as well,” he said.
When it comes to the long-range forecast, MacDonald said that although we can expect average temperatures, this winter will feel colder than last year’s.
That’s because last year Burns Lake was under the influence of El Niño, which makes temperatures warmer than average.
“We flipped to a very week La Niña this year,” said MacDonald. “It’s a very weak one, so it might fall to neutral.”
La Niña conditions usually make temperatures cooler than average.
Demand for electricity increases
With the first wave of cold arctic air, B.C. Hydro said electricity demand increased by 12 per cent across the province.
On Tuesday Dec. 6, electricity demand peaked at 9345 megawatts between 5 and 6 p.m. This was 1000 megawatts higher than the peak demand on Tuesday the week before.
B.C. Hydro is reminding customers there are simple ways to stay warm and save power during the winter:
– Install a programmable thermostat to schedule specific times to heat a home;
– Put on a sweater instead of turning up the temperature;
– Unplug unused electronics and use an advanced power bar to manage standby power;
– And wash laundry in cold water.