Real winter cold is MIA in much of Canada

The season has been kinder to many parts of Canada temperature-wise, along with below-average snowfall for many cities.

It's early January. The winter solstice is more than two weeks behind us. We're well into the coldest season. But, so far, winter has been throwing softballs for most Canadians.

We'll start with southern Ontario, Canada's most populous region that also features some of the country's consistently mildest winters. It has been cold, sure, but not extremely so, or even seasonally so.

In fact, the city of Toronto has so far not seen a low temperature of -10°C or below even once so far – for the first time since record-keeping began. The closest the city came was December 18th, where overnight lows bottomed out at -9.7°C.


In terms of snow, however, winter has indeed been delivering for Toronto, with the 66.6 cm that has fallen so far almost double the seasonal normal by this time.

But beyond Toronto, Calgary is the only other major Canadian city to outpace its expected snowfall total. Edmonton is running below its normal average up to this point, as are Ottawa and Montreal. Much of the East Coast, too, is in a deficit. For St. John's, whose 46.8 cm is less than half its normal, it could not be a bigger reversal from last year, where the city was buried by an epic snowstorm.

Snowfall through January 5

Vancouver, meanwhile, hasn't seen so much as a flake so far, well under its already meagre average of 19.6 cm. That doesn't mean the province has had a tranquil winter, so far, however: Wave after wave of Pacific systems over the past couple of weeks have brought hundreds of millimetres of rain to the coasts, and abundant snow in the mountains – Whistler at one point recorded 134 cm of snow, almost a metre and a half, over the course of one 96-hour period.

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In fact, in the first seven days of January, Whistler has been buried in almost two metres of fresh powder, some of the deepest in North America.


And the North, of course, has had abundant winter weather for the most part. Earlier this week, parts of Nunavut experienced wind chill values close to -60. Conversely, a late-December storm that brought extreme winds to the territory also broke a handful of temperature records.


So where IS real, impactful winter? Beyond our shores in some not so surprising places, and some VERY surprising places.

The most logical place, obviously, is Siberia, which is firmly in the grip of the polar vortex this week. The eastern Russian city of Yakutsk, no stranger to Arctic cold, is shivering in temperatures down to -50°C this week, though a long way from its all-time record low of -63°C.


On the other side of Eurasia, and definitely out of the ordinary, is Spain, of all places, which experiencing record cold temperatures and very heavy snow.

By Canadian standards, in fact, the cold to strike the Iberian Peninsula this week has been pretty respectable. On Wednesday, a low of -34.1°C was recorded in the Aragonese town of Clot del Tuc de la Llanca, shattering a record that had stood since the 1950s. Heavy snow, reaching and exceeding 30 cm in some areas, is also widespread across the country, creeping into Portugal as well.

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Coming back to Canada, people who've basked in an above-seasonal winter so far shouldn't get complacent: Forecasters are eyeing a blast of cold air that looks to sink southward over much of the country by mid-month.

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Check back on The Weather Network as we continue to monitor the winter forecast.