Christopher and Stephanie didn’t know what all the fuss was about.
The friends were walking in 10 centimetres of freshly fallen snow Friday in Kelowna’s Waterfront Park as the temperature hovered around zero and flakes swirled in the air.
“This is nice,” said Stephanie, a math student at UBC Okanagan. “I’m originally from Calgary, so I’m used to cold and snow and this is nothing.”
Christopher, visiting from Edmonton, echoed that sentiment.
“It’s -18 C in Edmonton right now, so this is definitely preferable,” he said.
But then discussion turned to the Okanagan weather forecast for the next few days.
Another snowstorm is expected Sunday, which could dump a further 10 centimetres of the white stuff in temperatures around -4 C.
“For sure, I’ll be back here plowing on Sunday,” said Luke Birtwistle of Gable Landscaping as he plowed snow from around the Delta Grand hotel on Friday.
The overnight low Sunday into Monday is predicted to be -19 C with periods of snow.
On Monday, the sun will shine brilliantly, but it will be a brisk -14 C.
However — and this is where it gets particularly unpleasant — the overnight low Monday into Tuesday is forecast to plummet to a bone-chilling -24 C.
If it’s any consolation, it will be clear overnight and a pretty crescent moon will be visible.
“I don’t think I’ll be out walking through the park on Tuesday morning,” said Stephanie with a laugh.
Depending on how you look at it, the cold snap can be either blamed on or credited to an arctic front of super-chilled air.
“There’s nothing like snow and cold to get the good, old-fashioned Canadian conversation going about the weather,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist.
“Minus 24 C is certainly cold. However, that’s likely to be the reading at the (Kelowna) airport. Closer to the (Okanagan) lake and in most of Kelowna, it will likely be -18 C. Minus 24 C will be the coldest of this winter so far, for sure, but it won’t set a record low. That belongs to -28 C.”
The forecast prompted WorkSafeBC to issue a warning for both workers and employers.
“Working in cold temperatures can lead to serious injuries if you’re unprepared,” said prevention manager Barry Nakahara.
Frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes without proper clothing and equipment.
Frostbite can quickly lead to cold stress, which can rapidly become hypothermia.
Hypothermia is when your body loses more heat than it can produce. It can be fatal.
From 2015 to 2018, 30 workers in B.C. were injured as a result of cold exposure, with frostbite being most common.
The daytime high is forecast to be -12 C on Tuesday, and -10 C Wednesday and Thursday.
Overnight lows Tuesday and Wednesday will be about -14 C.
“That’s a gradual warming-up compared to Monday and Tuesday and sets us up for another snowstorm late in the week,” said Lundquist. “But, it’s too early at this point to predict how much snow.”
While we may fret about cold and snow on the Valley floor, the ski resorts in the surrounding mountains revel in it.
On Friday, skiers and boarders at Big White Ski Resort east of Kelowna were enjoying fresh powdery snow and a temperature of -10 C.
There was fresh powder at SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon, too, and a temperature of -8 C.
Motorists, however, weren’t so happy with the snow.
The Kelowna RCMP reported “mayhem on William Bennett Bridge” Friday morning due to the snowstorm.
Just before 8:30 a.m., during the busy morning commute, multiple vehicles were stuck in both the eastbound and westbound lanes of Highway 97 on the hill west of the bridge.
Police urged motorists to stay in their cars while officers and first responders helped them as snowplows cleared the way and sand trucks put down grit for grip.
A semi-trailer truck jack-knifed in the southbound lane of Highway 97 near the Glenrosa Road exit, forcing a temporary road closure Friday morning.
Otherwise, Highway 97 through the Okanagan was plowed but had some compact snow and slippery sections.
The Okanagan Connector and Coquihalla highways to Vancouver were also plowed, but had compact snow and slippery sections and limited visibility due to blowing snow on some sections.
Motorists are urged to check current conditions at DriveBC.ca before striking out on a trip.
There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the havoc at Kelowna International Airport Friday.
Some flights in from Vancouver, Edmonton, Seattle and Victoria were cancelled. That meant some outgoing flights to Victoria and Seattle were cancelled.
Many flights were delayed, including the outgoing WestJet plane to Cancun, which took off 2 1/2 hours late.
No doubt, the vacationers on that jet heaved a sigh of relief, not just for finally departing but for knowing they will be absent from winter’s blast for the next week.
Flyers are asked to check flight status at YLW.Kelowna.ca.