Environment Canada: This winter will be milder than last year

November 21st, 2014 by admin

Southern Ontario and the northern United States recently got heavy snowfalls. As Matthew Coutts of Yahoo Canada News reports, Barrie and Waterloo received the brunt of the ice and snow, and Toronto has been warned that it could be due for snow as well. Currently, a special weather statement has been issued for the Niagara Region in anticipation of potential strong winds of up to 90 km/hr and heavy snowfall. Other regions have also received snow squall warnings.

Severe weather events like these do put stress on residents and municipal agencies. 

"Events like that are so extreme and so big that they put a lot of pressure on local municipal resources. It is difficult to forecast that you are going to see over a couple of days six to 10 feet of snow," Jason Thistlethwaite, director of the University of Waterloo's Climate Change Adaptation Project, told Yahoo Canada News. "In Ontario, for instance, a lot of cities are already over their snow budget – the money allocated for salt and plowing roads. That is gone, we are into next year's budget already. It is a really dicey thing to predict."

Despite the recent severe weather, Environment Canada's senior climatologist, Dave Phillips, says this winter, compared to last year, will be relatively mild. Phillips spoke to Ashley Csanady of Canada.com.

"The fact that winter has arrived in November, which is really even by Canadian standards a little earlier than it should be," he said. Yet, he cautioned that "the beginning part of winter says nothing about what the end is going to be."

Last year, a polar vortex covered much of Canada, leading to record lows. In general, Canadians are accustomed to dealing with and trying to anticipate how extreme the winter will be. 

However, the recent snow does not serve as an indication that the season will be unusually harsh. Phillips, though, did call the weather a "little reminder that we are the second coldest country in the world." Canada used to be the coldest country in the world. Yet, in 1989, when the former Soviet Union broke apart, the warmer Balkan states were excluded from Russia's annual averages, and it took over Canada's spot as the coldest country, Csanady writes. 

While still in their preliminary stages, Environment Canada's winter weather predictions forecast an average winter for Canadians. Compared to last year, it will be warmer, with more temperature swings and mid-winter melts.

"We think this is will be more of a yo-yo-ish winter," Phillips said. "I think that is really what you see is what we're going to get. These wild swings from the depths of winter to teases and hints of fall and spring."

In addition, there will be some weather variation across the country. Both coasts will enjoy warmer than usual temperatures, but southern Quebec, Ontario and the southern prairies will likely experience a normal winter by Canadian standards. 

Next week, temperatures will also begin to normalize in some regions of the country. The area around Toronto will return to double digits.

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