Bet­ting on a mild win­ter: En­vi­ron­ment Canada

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Agriculture - BY GIL­LIAN SLADE SOUTH­ERN AL­BERTA NEWS­PA­PERS

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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