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Welcome to winter, Canada! Prepare for a stormy and changeable season ahead

·8 min read
Welcome to winter, Canada! Prepare for a stormy and changeable season ahead
Welcome to winter, Canada! Prepare for a stormy and changeable season ahead

Devastating floods, record warmth, and even blizzards have all grabbed headlines across Canada during the fall of 2021. While we have seen a few quick shots of early winter weather, consistent cold has been missing so far across the country. Is this mild and stormy pattern a preview of what is to come this winter? For a look ahead at what we expect during December, January, and February, please read on.

A tumultuous temperature pattern is expected across Canada during the upcoming winter season. This will result in a come-and-go winter across the eastern half of the country, with periods of high impact winter weather, interrupted by periods of mild weather. Across western Canada, we expect that frigid temperatures will out-duel any periods of milder weather. Meanwhile, across eastern Canada, the periods of mild weather should be more dominant.

Here is a look at our national temperature forecast for the winter of 2021-2022.

Winter forecast 2021-22 Temperature Pattern
Winter forecast 2021-22 Temperature Pattern

For much of the winter season, we expect that the focus of the frigid weather will be across western Canada, with rather mild weather surging north into eastern Canada at times. However, we anticipate two different versions of that pattern.

At times, very mild temperatures will dominate across the eastern half of the country. This will result in extended thaws across southern parts of the region, and seemingly ‘wipe away’ winter.

Temperature Pattern A: January and February 2021
Temperature Pattern A: January and February 2021

However, at times, the frigid weather across western and central Canada will attempt to spread south and east. This would set up a battleground between the Arctic air to the north and the very mild air to the south, that will extend from southern Ontario to the Maritimes. This scenario will produce periods of high-impact winter weather with messy systems tracking across the region.

Scenario B: 2022 January and February Temperature Pattern
Scenario B: 2022 January and February Temperature Pattern

While it looks like the milder version of the pattern will be more dominant, we are still uncertain about the exact balance between the two scenarios – which will be the key to how the winter is remembered from the Great Lakes to the Maritimes.

Meanwhile, a La Niña weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean will continue to support an active storm track across southern Canada, leading to above normal precipitation and snowfall for southern parts of B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. However, across southern Ontario and into parts of southern Quebec, several of our winter storms will bring a messy mix of snow, ice, and even rain. So, while we still expect an abundance of snow (despite the milder temperatures), southernmost areas could end up with below normal snowfall.

National Precipitation Forecast for Canada's 2021-22 Winter
National Precipitation Forecast for Canada's 2021-22 Winter

Below you can find a more detailed look at your provincial forecast, as well as a sneak peek into early spring.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

A stormy pattern is expected to continue across southern B.C. through the winter season, resulting in above normal precipitation totals. This will bring an abundance of snow to the alpine regions, and at times, we expect significant snowfall across lower elevations, including Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Victoria, and the Okanagan Valley.

In addition, colder than normal temperatures are expected to dominate the season, and potentially linger well into March. This should set the stage for an extended ski season.

WATCH BELOW: HOW LA NIÑA WILL IMPACT WINTER WEATHER ACROSS B.C.

Click here to view the video

ALBERTA

A frigid winter is expected across the province. While a few periods of milder weather are expected, we have a heightened risk for extended periods of severe cold, as well as for blizzard conditions as Arctic air plunges south across the region. A snowy winter is expected across the southern half of the province, including Calgary. Near normal snowfall is expected elsewhere, including Edmonton.

Calgary: Snowfall normals for typical winter
Calgary: Snowfall normals for typical winter

MANITOBA AND SASKATCHEWAN

A classic Canadian winter is expected across the region. While a few periods of milder weather are likely, we have a heightened risk for extended periods of severe cold and also for blizzard conditions at times as Arctic air plunges south across the region. A snowy winter is expected across southwestern parts of Saskatchewan, but otherwise, the rest of the region should see near normal snowfall, including Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg.

WATCH BELOW: ONE REGION MAY SEE MORE SNOW THAN OTHERS

Click here to view the video

ONTARIO

A come-and-go winter is expected with periods of mild weather and a couple periods of high impact winter weather. An active storm track should bring an abundance of snow to much of the region at times, but many systems will also bring a messy mix of snow, ice and rain, especially across southern areas. The winter will also include extended periods of mild weather, including the potential for prolonged thaws, especially across southern parts of the province.

WATCH BELOW: HOW A DOMINATING LA NIÑA WILL IMPACT WINTER STORMS ACROSS ONTARIO

Click here to view the video

We are watching the potential for a period of more consistent winter weather during the first half of January. However, for most of the winter we expect a lack of persistent or severe cold.

Toronto Winter Snowfall Normals
Toronto Winter Snowfall Normals

QUEBEC

A stormy winter will be broken up at times by extended periods of rather mild temperatures, with the potential for prolonged thaws across southern areas, including Montreal and Gatineau. An active storm track could still bring an abundance of snow to much of the region, but many storm systems will also bring a messy mix of snow, ice, and rain across southern areas.

We are watching the potential for a period of more consistent winter weather from the end of December through mid-January. However, for most of the winter we expect a lack of persistent or severe cold.

WATCH BELOW: COLORADO AND TEXAS LOWS TO BRING MESSY MIX AT TIMES

Click here to view the video

MARITIMES

A mild pattern is expected to dominate across the Maritimes this winter. While there will be periods of typical winter weather, we expect a lack of persistent or severely cold weather. We also expect a less stormy pattern than what we typically see, with fewer nor’easters. However, a few moisture-laden systems should bring precipitation totals to near normal. Many storms, though, will bring a messy mix of snow, ice, and rain, which should result in below normal snowfall for parts of the region, especially near the Bay of Fundy.

WATCH BELOW: WILL FEWER STORMS MEAN LESS SNOW ACROSS ATLANTIC CANADA?

Click here to view the video

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

A mild pattern is expected to dominate across the province this winter. While there will be periods of typical winter weather, we expect a lack of persistent or severely cold weather. We also expect a less stormy pattern with fewer than normal nor’easters. However, a few moisture-laden systems should bring precipitation totals to near normal across most of the province. Many storms will also bring a messy mix of snow, ice and rain to the region, which could result in below normal snowfall across southern parts of Newfoundland.

Newfoundland and Labrador snowfall normals for winter
Newfoundland and Labrador snowfall normals for winter

NORTHERN CANADA

A colder than normal winter is expected across most of the Yukon, including Whitehorse and the southwestern half of the Northwest Territories (N.W.T). Above normal temperatures are expected for eastern Nunavut (including Iqaluit) with near normal temperatures for the eastern N.W.T. and western Nunavut. Near normal precipitation totals are expected across most of the region, but eastern Nunavut could end up with above normal snowfall.

WATCH BELOW: WILL A LA NIÑA PATTERN BRING POLAR VORTEX COLD?

Click here to view the video

END OF WINTER/EARLY SPRING

It is very early to be looking all the way ahead to the month of March. However, as we look back in history at years with a similar global pattern to what we have this year, there is some consistency in a pattern that resembles what several models are showing as well. While the agreement between the models and historical patterns certainly does not guarantee on how we will transition from winter to spring this year, at this point we expect a rather mild March from the Great Lakes to the Maritimes and a cooler than normal March across western Canada.

Preliminary March 2022 Forecast
Preliminary March 2022 Forecast

A word of caution, though – one should not assume that the March pattern will predict what will follow for April and May.

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