Do not put away your winter gear just yet.
A frigid arctic air mass that has brought record cold to Siberia is set to reach Metro Vancouver and the rest of B.C. by next weekend – and it could last weeks.
According to The Weather Network meteorologist Jessie Uppal, the polar vortex that sits over the North Pole has been especially intense over the past week due to an unusual jet stream locking the cold in place.
On Jan. 14 this led to a record minus 62.4 Celsius in Tongulakh, Siberia – the coldest day recorded anywhere in Russia over the past 20 years and roughly the temperature of an average day on Mars.
“The record cold was quite recent in Siberia — just last week.” Uppal said.
“It was due to an extremely stagnant and straight jet stream pattern that’s been keeping the polar vortex tied up by the poles.
“However, heading into the next week, a more amplified jet stream will allow for this frigid air to be dislodged further south, entering Western Canada.”
Uppal said that by next weekend temperatures in Metro Vancouver could reach minus 10 C, with daily highs at around the freezing mark. She said the ultra-cold high pressure system could then stay in place well into February.
“The cold that does eventually reach the south coast of B.C. in the long-range forecast will probably not be record breaking (for winter), but it will feel much colder than what residents have been experiencing for the beginning of 2023.”
In the lead up to Christmas of 2022 there was a weeklong period of unusual cold weather in Metro Vancouver, that met up with several low pressure systems coming from the Pacific Ocean bringing heavy snow to the region. Things started to warm up just before Christmas Day and snow turned to rain and things washed away.
Uppal said that the coming weather system will be different because while it will be very cold, there are not strong low pressure systems coming in off the Pacific. This means many of the days will be cold with clear blue skies.
“The end of January things will not be stormy. There is not a lot of moisture in the forecast,” she said.
This is bad news for ski resorts that are already dealing with a low snow pack.
“So far, next weekend we are forecasting between minus six and minus 10 Celsius as minimums and single digit daytime highs for Metro Vancouver.”
The intense cold is expected to impact all of B.C. and Alberta and will begin slowly, starting Monday when freezing levels begin to drop.
Municipalities are expected to announce their extreme-cold shelter plans this week.
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