White Christ­mas un­likely

Re­cent mild spell un­does early snow­fall, with milder win­ter in the fore­cast

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - VERON­ICA REINER

WITH PRE­DIC­TION MOD­ELS ALL over the map, win­ter will be hard to gauge this year. How­ever, we can ex­pect the sea­son in Water­loo Re­gion to be milder and a lit­tle shorter than what we got last year, ac­cord­ing to En­vi­ron­ment Canada se­nior cli­ma­tol­o­gist David Phillips.

“There’ll be mo­ments ahead where we’re re­minded where we live: the sec­ond cold­est coun­try in the world and the snowiest coun­try in the world,” said Phillips. “But my sense is when we come right down to it, add up all the num­bers – we won’t be as bad as we were last year.”

While it may have felt dif­fer­ently over the past few months due to the ex­cess pre­cip­i­ta­tion, win­ter has not yet be­gun – the of­fi­cial start date ar­rives to­mor­row (De­cem­ber 21).

“Fall is a glo­ri­ous time of the year,” said Phillips. “Peo­ple like the fall, and this year we felt cheated; it was short. We went from sweat to slush. Pre­cip­i­ta­tion was up in Oc­to­ber, Novem­ber. It tended to be more of the white stuff than the liq­uid stuff.”

In­deed, Water­loo Re­gion has al­ready seen more snow than usual, get­ting be­tween 30-35 cm ver­sus the av­er­age 25 cm for this time of year – which was good news for those dream­ing of a white Christ­mas, at least un­til the re­cent spate of mild weather, though there are flur­ries in the fore­cast.

What’s unique about the 2018/2019 win­ter sea­son is the pres­ence of an El Niño, which is the warmer por­tion of a phase known as the El-Niño-South­ern os­cil­la­tion cy­cle that de­scribes a fluc­tu­a­tion cy­cle in tem­per­a­ture be­tween the ocean and the at­mos­phere. The cooler vari­ant of the phrase is called La Niña.

Specif­i­cally, the El Niño brings un­usu­ally warm wa­ter in the Pa­cific ocean and has a global ef­fect on the cli­mate. How­ever, its pres­ence is rel­a­tively weak this time around.

“My sense is this year, be­cause of El Niño, it might be milder than last year,” said Phillips. “It’s not go­ing to be record mild. In a weak El Niño, it’s never record­break­ing. It’d have to be a strong episode of El Niño to give us more Pa­cific air and less Arc­tic air.”

There is re­ally no agreed- upon con­sen­sus as to how the next few months are go­ing to go weather-wise.

“From where I sit now and when I look at the dif­fer­ent mod­els, the mod­els are all over the place,” said Phillips. “In the Amer­i­can mod­els, it says it’s go­ing to be warmer than nor­mal. The Weather Net­work said it was go­ing to be colder than nor­mal. So ev­ery­body has a dif­fer­ent fore­cast.”

But what­ever hap­pens, Phillips main­tained that Cana­di­ans will be ready for it, as there have al­ready been a fair share of frigid days.

“We’ve al­ready been con­di­tioned. We’ve al­ready had a taste of win­ter,” said Phillips. “And so I think we put our snow tires on, we know where our snow shov­els are, we’ve got the leg warmers out and the parkas. So we’re al­ready ac­cli­ma­tized to what­ever na­ture can give us.”

Get ready to bun­dle up for the next few months un­til at least win­ter’s of­fi­cial end date in late March.

[VERON­ICA REINER / THE OB­SERVER]

It was def­i­nitely a green Christ­mas at the Elmira Scouts’ tree lot in Gore Park with less than week to go be­fore the big day.

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