Please note: This is for the winter of 2010-2011.
Farmers’ Almanac’s Canadian Winter Outlook for 2011-12 can be found here »
The suspense is finally over. The 2011 Canadian Farmers’ Almanac is on shelves now, and our much-awaited long-range forecast for the coming year is no longer a secret. This year, the big question on many Canadians’ minds is whether or not the coming winter will be a repeat performance of last year, dubbed by many “the winter that wasn’t.”
The winter of 2009-10 was the warmest winter on record for Canada since nationwide recording began in 1948. On average, it was 4° C warmer than a typical winter, and brought far less snow than usual, making the moniker “the Great White North” seem like an overstatement. 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.
So will this winter be as mild as last winter?
The short answer is, “probably not.” In fact, the strange upside-down weather pattern that was experienced last winter is, in reality, a naturally occurring part of the climate system and simply represents a temporary redistribution of heat energy across the Northern Hemisphere, 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.
For the coming year, though, the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac predicts that Old Man Winter will make a comeback, bringing back much colder conditions during 2010-11, particularly to the eastern half of the country. Applying our secret formula, we believe the upcoming winter season will display a split personality nationwide, with unseasonably cold temperatures in Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, southern and eastern Quebec, and southeast Ontario. The Maritime Provinces and the Gaspé Peninsula will experience particularly frigid temperatures; the equivalent of a cold slap in the face, after last winter’s relatively balmy conditions.
Meanwhile, much of central Canada will see near-normal temperatures. This includes western Quebec, much of Ontario, Manitoba, and eastern and central Saskatchewan. In these areas, Ms. Nature will mix intervals of unseasonably mild temperatures with periodic shots of bitter cold; average it out and it comes out–average!
Farther west, in western Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, milder-than-normal temperatures are expected. Although not quite as mild as what was experienced last winter, it will be a marked contrast to the frigidity that we project will cover the eastern sections of the country.
Precipitation-wise, if you like snow, you should head to western Quebec, much of Ontario and the eastern half of Manitoba, where snowier-than normal conditions will prevail. A heavier-than-normal dose of precipitation will also hit British Columbia and western Alberta, while the remainder of the country will see near-normal amounts of winter precipitation.
For a more detailed forecast for your region, keep your eye on our long-range forecast.