Low visibilities in the South Okanagan lasted for about four hours on Friday morning (Jan. 21) (Brennan Phillips, Western News)

‘Valley fog’: Penticton encounters common January weather phenomenon

Environment Canada is monitoring low-visibility conditions in the South Okanagan

Significant fog in the South Okanagan on Friday morning (Jan. 21) caught the attention of Environment Canada, prompting consideration for a low-visibility warning for the region to start the weekend.

Low visibilities, particularly in Penticton, lasted for about four hours and in turn caused icy road conditions.

For Environment Canada to issue a fog advisory, low visibilities have to last for at least six hours. The conditions on Friday came as no surprise to Vancouver-based meteorologist Bobby Sekhon, however, who called the mist “valley fog.”

“Valley fog is a pretty common phenomenon in the winter (in the Okanagan),” he said.

“January is the prime time for getting fog. On average in January, Penticton sees about three days where the visibility is less than one killometre.”

Sekhon added that cooler temperatures and a lack of power from the sun contribute to January being the year’s foggiest month.

Temperatures on Friday morning reached lows of -1 C and -2 C in Penticton, causing surfaces to freeze due to the significant mist in the air.

“If we see temperatures that are below zero, we do have the possibility for freezing fog,” the Environment Canada meteorologist said.

As of 12 p.m. on Friday, DriveBC highway webcams are indicating that the fog is making its way north from Penticton.

Low visibilities have been seen on Highway 97 just north of Summerland, as a result.

Icy road conditions in Kelowna on Friday morning have also been attributed to the fog seen in the area overnight and cooler temperatures.

“Today wasn’t quite within our fog advisory criteria but tomorrow could be a little bit different,” Sekhon said. “The tricky part here is whether it’s going to be low cloud or whether it’s going to all the way to surface and be fog.”

READ MORE: Meteorologist looks back at extreme heat in June: ‘Worst weather event of my career’


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Environment Canada weatherOkanaganOkanagan-Similkameen Regional DistrictPenticton