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BC Hydro predicts cold winter

La Nina year to bring lower average temps, says meteorologist

BC Hydro’s weather specialist is advising residents to prepare for a colder-than-average winter this year.

Tim Ashman, meteorologist with the provincial utility company says that average temperatures will be lower as the result of a La Nina phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation, which affects surface temperatures in the south, blowing north from the tropics.

In El Nino years, temperatures are milder, however in La Nina winters, the effect is a colder season.

“We’re loading the dice for more snow events,” said Ashman, explaining that the predictions are made based on annual changes in the ocean temperatures in the Southern Pacific. “This year they’re already cold.”

He says that in places like the Elk Valley, this means more snow.

“The impacts of weather on power utilities are quite complex,” he said, explaining that as a weather specialist with BC Hydro, he provides insight on how storms and temperatures will affect power lines and demand for hydro.

“We know what the different impacts are at different times of the year,” he said.

With the incoming La Nina winter, Ashman says that the company is preparing for a heavier power demand to heat homes across the province amidst cooler temperatures.

“We’ve already seen that colder outbreak in the first week of November,” he said, recalling heavy snowfall early in the season. “We saw power outages as a result.”

Part of his job was to predict the subsequent melt, and advise crews on possible flooding events, particularly in reservoirs along the coast.

Ashman says the BC Hydro services an area with three times more trees per kilometre of power lines than any other utility company in North America.

“More than half of outages are caused by trees falling on lines,” he said.

BC Hydro advises that families always be prepared for power outages, to have an emergency kit and plans arranged with friends and family in the event of a prolonged incident.

If anyone comes across a downed power line, Ashman says to stay at least 10 metres back, or the length of a bus away and to call 1-800-bchydro to report it.

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