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Spring Outlook

Spring Outlook: The weather to expect next season. Coming soon

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Dalia Ibrahim
Digital Reporter

Thursday, February 26, 2015, 6:51 PM - After a brutal winter that saw colder-than-normal temperatures and near record-breaking snowfall, many Canadians await the arrival of warmer weather.

With spring officially arriving March 20, anticipation is building as we get set to release the 2015 Spring Outlook long-range forecast on Tuesday March 3. 

Beginning at 6 a.m. ET, The Weather Network will reveal the Spring Outlook to Canadians on television and at theweathernetwork.com/outlook. Then at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott and presenter Chris St. Clair provide deeper analysis and insights on how spring will look and feel in each region.

Here, meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham explains how forecasters predict the weather so far in the future.

How do you peer so far ahead?

The development of our seasonal outlooks involves a continual tracking of weather and ocean water temperature patterns around the world. We look for signs that current patterns will continue or whether they will change as we progress into the next season and beyond. To have the best chance at doing this successfully, one must follow the weather throughout the year. We are already looking ahead to the summer and beyond.

What tools do you use?

Weather services around the world produce a number of different computer models that assist us with determining to what extent the current pattern will persist versus how it will change during the weeks and months to come. Understanding the pattern and how it should evolve is critical to being successful, as the models will often disagree with each other and/or come up with a forecast that does not make a lot of sense meteorologically.

We also seek to identify previous years that had similar weather and study the patterns that were associated with those years.

On Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, you predicted six more weeks of winter, possibly more, does this stand? 

Yes. From the central Prairies to Atlantic Canada, we have seen below seasonal temperatures since the first week of February. And while the pattern may briefly relax somewhat, there are no signs that we will see a reversal in the pattern as we head into early March. Parts of British Columbia and southwestern Alberta, meanwhile, have had spring-like temperatures during February, but winter is not over in these regions either.

What clues can be found in the weather this winter to forecast the spring?

One cannot forecast the upcoming spring simply based on the previous winter. History shows that cold winters can linger well into spring or they can be followed by an early and warm spring. 

The weather we have seen this winter, however, will have some impact on spring. In areas where we have an unusually deep snow pack, there is a heightened potential for flooding if the melting occurs quickly. In these regions, a slow arrival to spring would certainly have benefits. Extensive sea or lake ice can also impact temperature patterns as we head into spring.

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