Canada faces a cold, snowy winter even though summer stayed late

Despite the late summer much of eastern Canada has experienced this year, temperatures will drop substantially as we move into the new year. In the western side of the country, snowy conditions will come to Rockies, coupled with blasts of Arctic winds sweeping in from the north.

According to AccuWeather’s forecasts, the eastern part of country faces a snow-filled winter, with major snowstorms predicted to hit a stretch running from Windsor, Ont. all the way north to Montreal, Que. Warmer waters in the Great Lakes, combined with the development of La Niña, are responsible for most of the upcoming weather.

“Eastern central Ontario and southern Quebec will see above normal snowfall. But we’re not expecting a cold winter,” says AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson. “It’s possible to have snow without having incredibly cold weather.”

AccuWeather predicts cold weather trends across Canada.
AccuWeather predicts cold weather trends across Canada.

The record warmth of the Great Lakes plays a part in the the weather staying warming than usual. Two weeks ago, Anderson says, the lakes were up to 5 degrees Celsius warmer than usual, and were in fact the warmest they’d been all year. Lake temperatures historically reach their peak at the end of August, but a drawn out summer in the eastern part of Canada delayed the start of the cooling down period. The increased lake effect and snowstorms are expected to create favourable skiing and snowmobiling conditions throughout the east.

Winter will also hit the Prairies hard, albeit with less snow than in eastern Canada. “Compared to last winter, the upcoming winter is expected to be colder from the eastern Prairies to Quebec,” says Anderson, as a result of waves of chilly Arctic air that will descend on the provinces. “Most winters have been relatively mild in the past 20 years.”

Farther west however, those cold conditions will likely be a boon for B.C.’s ski industry, providing ski mountains with a heavy snowpack fairly early on in the ski season. It’s predicted that the skiing season will run into the spring. Coastal areas around Vancouver and Victoria, meanwhile, will also see some snowfall.

The coast-to-coast predicted snowfall trends across Canada in winter 2017.
The coast-to-coast predicted snowfall trends across Canada in winter 2017.

“There will be an increased opportunity for a couple of Arctic intrusions, which may eventually set the stage for a few snow events near the coast,” says Anderson.

The one part of Canada that won’t experience a colder winter, according to the forecast, is the Maritimes. The strength and reach of the Atlantic’s storm systems, and the warmer waters that feed them, will make for a cloudier and milder winter.

“This may also increase the potential for some major ocean storms during the winter that may target Newfoundland with rain or snow,” says Anderson.

Temperatures are due to drop starting next week as a result of storms coming up the eastern seaboard, although they won’t stay down for long, says Anderson. Warmer than average temperatures will continue until late November, when daytime temperatures will start hitting freezing.

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