Roads throughout the Okanagan will be busy during the next few days as people travel to wherever they plan to spend Christmas, and the weather could make a big difference in how easily people's trips go. An Environment Canada meteorologist has some advice on which days could be the best for driving.
Environment Canada weatherman Doug Lundquist isn't planning to go anywhere this Christmas, but said the best travel times over the holidays will be later on Sunday through early Tuesday, Christmas Day.
"If I have to travel, I will look at Environment Canada's public forecasts in the regions I'm going to travel through. Plus we have a high elevation travellers' forecast that goes out for the next 24 to 36 hours for the passes," said Lundquist Friday.
"Then, I check DriveBC, even if it is clear. I had friends just come down from Burns Lake: They're like: 'The weather was perfect, but the roads were awful.'
"Weather is only one of the factors. But if you know the weather is yucky, you can stay off the roads, which reduces the risk. If I don't have to travel, I don't."
If roads are icy and have compacted white slush, a snowstorm will create another layer of slipperiness and reduce the visibility - "a double whammy," said Lundquist.
"What I do is bring weather forecasting into the equation when travelling at this time of year. Bringing weather into it really helps to decrease the risk. It doesn't eliminate it, but it's a big factor."
The weather for the current five-day forecast period is a good example. After a short-lived break on Friday morning, clouds and precipitation moved into the Coastal Mountains.
"It's not far and we'll probably see some more stuff in Kelowna, probably over the higher terrain. It's kind of unsettled through until early Sunday. Then the latter part of Sunday, Monday and early Christmas Day is the best window for travel," said Lundquist.
"It's not perfect, there still might be some flurries around, but certainly, it's the longest gap. We might even get arctic air in there. It's going to get ever so close."
That frigid air mass will dry things out and actually make travelling better, he said.
"It's temperatures around 0 C that are awful, this wavering between -3 C and 1 C. The freeze-thaw cycle can be pretty nasty."
Lundquist tries to give himself a three-day window for travelling.
"If I want to travel on Wednesday next week, I look at Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I might travel Tuesday, I might travel Thursday. I'm flexible. I'm patient. I just give myself room for problems."
According to the high elevation travellers forecast, the Coquihalla Highway, Okanagan Connector and Hope-Princeton could expect two to four centimetres overnight Friday, and Eagle Pass to Rogers Pass five centimetres.
The web address is: www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/forecast/textforecast_e.html?Bulletin=fpcn68.cwvr.