From the balmy Arctic, to the snowless western fields, to the open waters of the St. Lawrence, the winter of 2009—2010 was the warmest and driest on Canadian record. We had forecasted a nationwide temperature pattern that would resemble an “Ice-cold Sandwich,” with unseasonably cold temperatures predominating mostly over the middle of the country, while, like the bread of a sandwich, there would be two regions that would average closer to normal–the West Coast and the East Coast. But no one expected what actually transpired!!
Beyond Shocking–Crazy Warm
Based on data compiled by Environment Canada, the national average temperature for the winter of 2009—2010 was 4.0°C above normal, which makes this the warmest winter since nationwide records began in 1948. The previous record was 2005—2006, which was 3.9°C above normal. All of the country, except for a small area of the southern Prairies, was above normal, with some areas of the Arctic and northern Quebec more than 6°C above normal. As predicted in the 2010 Canadian Farmers’ Almanac, only a few areas of Saskatchewan and northern prairies saw anything close to winter’s true fury this past year.
This strange winter weather was caused by the potent global El Niño system that took hold during the summer of 2009 and ended during this past summer. During El Niño years, strong jet stream winds carry cold air further south than normal, causing typically cold areas, such as Canada and the northern United States, to see warmer, drier winter conditions than normal, while generally warmer areas experience colder, wetter conditions than normal.