Sunday, 09 September 2018 05:45

Too early to tell, but place bets on a mild winter

Written by  Gillian Slade, Southern Alberta Newspapers
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Any warnings of a brutal winter to come are simply inaccurate, according to Environment Canada.


An early forecast for winter, by the Canadian Farmer’s Almanac, calls for temperatures below seasonal norms across the Prairies, with temperatures in February that will plunge to -40 or -45 C. It predicts coast-to-coast snow storms by mid March.
“It’s just wrong,” said Dave Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist. “They don’t have any skill at all when they make these forecasts.”
Environment Canada doesn’t release its winter forecast until early December but there are signs it won’t be that bad.
“We know that El Niño is brewing in the Pacific and it is a warmer than normal situation. It’s not going to be a rip-roaring intense episode, and maybe not as huge as in other years, but when it’s warmer than normal, one of the (results) is generally a milder than normal winter in Canada,” said Phillips.
Intense El Niños occurred in the winters of 2016 and 2010, and those were two of the warmest winters on record in Canada. Phillips says a connection exists between warmer ocean waters in the Pacific and what type of winter pans out here.
There is no guarantee — there never is in Canada — but the nation overall experienced a warmer summer than normal, and it can take a while to get rid of that heat, he said. And once El Niño appears it won’t just suddenly vanish, either.
“It takes a lot to turn it around, said Phillips.
Environment Canada is calling for the fall to be warmer than normal, too, and Philips says there is still some summer left in the air.
While Phillips would not bet a lot of money on it, he would bet more money on the fact it will be milder than normal rather than what the Farmer’s Almanac is saying, he said.

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