Mild temperatures and high winds causing minor headaches for oil and gas industry

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Though it was just last week that cold temperatures and icy wind chills were felt across the Peace Region, this week is seeing an entirely different weather pattern.

Environment Canada Meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau says that the warm temperatures are being causing by a flow of warm, moist weather that has been blowing off the Pacific from the Gulf of Alaska. While not unheard, Charbonneau says that these warm weather flows are unseasonal, and have driven temperatures across the Peace Region above the freezing mark. The flow is also responsible for the windy conditions across the Region, which is caused by the warm air forcing its way downhill from the Rocky Mountains. Though the main highways across the Peace are in decent shape, side roads across the region aren’t faring very well.

School buses in the Dawson Creek area were cancelled this morning due to wind blown snow drifts covering many side roads in the South Peace. The warm, wind-blown snow is also having an impact on many industrial roads serving the oil and gas industry. Energy Services of BC Executive Director Art Jarvis says that the back roads that depend on a snow pack during the winter can rapidly deteriorate. Jarvis says that the warm weather causes the snow to compact and become a slushy, slippery mess, similar to road conditions that created chaos in Vancouver for the better part of the last month.

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Jarvis says that small warm spells aren’t of any major concern in the short term for job sites themselves, but that the wind is proving to be more of an issue. Jarvis says that work on service rigs in particular has been halted on several occasions in the past few days, since companies have deemed it unsafe to be working in derricks in the high winds. He added that other companies are facing problems due to power outages caused by the high winds. Jarvis says that a number of well sites are using power from the BC Hydro grid, which has been experiencing intermittent outages across the region in recent days.

When it comes to the weather pattern changing, Charbonneau says that the short term forecast is calling for the warm, windy weather to continue until Thursday or Friday, when we’ll see a return to a more seasonal weather pattern, along with some snow.

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