Skaha Beach in Penticton saw plenty of activity on Tuesday, Aug. 17 during a warm summer day. Penticton and Osoyoos are among Canada’s favourite getaway destinations in recent months. Data released from Google Aug. 14, 2020 shows three Okanagan cities in the top-five fastest rising hotel destinations in Canada. Beaches and wineries are among the popular attractions for visitors. (John Arendt - Black Press)

‘Extraordinary’ heat in the Okanagan as 120-year-long records shattered in May

Month-long temperatures in the region recorded at 3 to 5 C above normal

May 2023 has cemented itself in the Okanagan-wide record books as one of the warmest ever.

Environment Canada says the region experienced averages of 3 to 5 C above normal throughout the month, with Penticton, Vernon and Kelowna recording monthly means of 17.5 C, 17.9 C and 18.1 C, respectively.

Those marks surpass previous records set in the early 1900s, and in Kelowna’s case, 1899.

“It was so extraordinary that it was the warmest May on record for 16 stations across B.C.,” said Armell Castellan, a meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The three Okanagan cities also broke multiple daily records during the month, particularly during Mother’s Day weekend and from May 19 to 21.

Environment Canada says Kelowna on May 19 experienced a high of 33.1 C, the warmest for any day across the region.

What’s also notable, Castellan says, is the high minimum temperatures that occurred overnight through the month.

Temperatures didn’t dip lower than 15.9 C in Kelowna on May 16, an overnight record that dates back to 1939.

“That really goes to show how warm it was in mid-May,” Castellan said. “This event that we saw was such a strong blocking pattern, similar to what you would see with a heat wave or heat dome.”

Castellan also says that all of the Okanagan experienced a drier-than-normal May, except Penticton.

When looking across the province, the Peach City was only joined by Fort St. John in recording higher-than-normal precipitation levels.

While Vernon and Kelowna saw just 56 and 51 per cent of their normal precipitation levels, Penticton experienced 47.2 millimetres of rain. That beats the city’s normal mark of 39.3 millimetres for May, a month already considered the year’s second wettest, according to Environment Canada.

Warm temperatures are expected to stick around until at least next Thursday, June 8, in the Okanagan.

Environment Canada is forecasting highs of between 28 C and 30 C this weekend.

All three aforementioned cities are forecasted to reach highs of 34 C on Wednesday, June 7.

READ MORE: Take precautions in warm weather to keep kids safe, B.C. police advise


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