2019 forecast update: Winter locks in for next two months
Friday, December 21, 2018, 3:06 PM - Winter weather arrived early during the fall season across most of Canada, but December has featured periods of milder weather, putting a white Christmas in jeopardy for most southern Canadian cities. Will this milder pattern continue into the heart of winter? According to the Weather Network’s Winter Forecast, it depends on which part of Canada you call home.
The map below shows our temperature forecast, highlighting two distinct patterns for the months of January and February across Canada.
Above seasonal temperatures are expected to dominate across western Canada with below normal temperatures dominating for most of eastern Canada. In between, back and forth swings in temperatures should come close to offsetting each other.
The dominant storm track this winter is expected to be from the Gulf of Mexico, up the eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and into Atlantic Canada. This is expected to bring above normal precipitation (including snowfall) to Atlantic Canada. Across the rest of Canada, snow totals are expected to be near normal, but a large region from southern B.C. to Northwestern Ontario could see less snow than normal during the months of January and February.
Here is a more detailed look at what our winter forecast means for each region of the country.
Overall, a milder winter is expected across the province with fewer episodes of arctic air compared to what we typically see for the south coast and Lower Mainland. We also expect fewer threats of significant snow in coastal areas and interior valleys. In contrast to our recent stormy pattern, below normal precipitation is anticipated across southern B.C. with fewer storms and more extended periods of dry weather. Meanwhile, the north coast is expected to be wetter than normal.
While a mild pattern with near normal or below normal precipitation would typically be bad news for skiers, we still expect a solid ski season this winter. The December pattern has built a substantial base of snow across the region and we do not expect the dreaded warm and rainy pattern that would wipe out that base. However, preliminary indications point towards an earlier arrival of spring weather, so the ski season is not expected to last as long into the spring as it did last year.
PRAIRIES AND NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO
The Prairies will be the battle zone between the mild Pacific air to the west and arctic air to the east. This will result in a changeable winter with back and forth swings in temperature, which are expected to tip to the mild side of normal across Alberta and into western Saskatchewan. However, these temperature swings should come close to offsetting each other across the eastern Prairies and Northwestern Ontario.
While the final numbers are predicted to be near “normal” across eastern Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, much of the winter could end up feeling anything but “normal”. Extended periods of harsh winter weather are expected, along with periods of milder weather. Most of the region is expected to see near normal or below normal snowfall with lower than typical concerns for spring flooding.
SOUTHERN AND EASTERN ONTARIO AND QUEBEC
WATCH BELOW: WHAT TO EXPECT IN ONTARIO
December has featured periods of milder weather and little snow across most of this region. However, this does not mean that we are going to get easy after all this year.
As we look back at history, a couple years really stand out as being similar to what we have seen this year, both in terms of the global pattern and in our local weather. 2002 and 2014 both had an early start to winter November followed by an extended period of mild weather for the second half of December and into early January. Both winters then turned severely cold for the second half of winter. That does not mean that the rest of this winter will necessarily be as severe as February 2015, but this does highlight why one should not judge the winter just based on December. We still believe that we are on track for colder than normal temperatures for January and February.
This region will see numerous clippers but fewer moisture-laden Colorado and Texas Lows are expected. An abundance of lake effect snow is expected for the traditional snow belts east and southeast of the Great Lakes due to frequent shots of arctic air. This should mean near normal snowfall totals despite fewer high impact storms than normal. However, areas outside of the snow belts, including the Greater Toronto Area, could fall short of normal snowfall as the dominant storm track will typically be south and east of the region.
BELOW: WHAT'S IN STORE FOR QUEBEC
While Ontario and Quebec will be teased with early spring weather in March, we expect a delay in the arrival of consistent spring warmth.
November and December have provided us with a preview of what is yet to come for Atlantic Canada. We have had an active storm track from the Gulf of Mexico, up the U.S. East Coast and into Atlantic Canada that is expected to continue for the remainder of the winter. While many of these storms will track offshore and keep snow as the dominant precipitation type across the region, some of these storms will track further north. This will bring very mild temperatures and rain at times, especially to southern areas where temperatures are forecast to balance out to near normal for the season. The winter pattern will also likely linger into early spring.
Above normal temperatures are expected to dominate much of the region, including all of the Yukon and Northwest Territories and western Nunavut. However, near to below normal temperatures are predicted for eastern Nunavut including Iqaluit.
Above normal snowfall is expected across the Yukon and into western Northwest Territories. Near normal snowfall totals are expected elsewhere across the region.
Colder than normal temperatures are expected across most of the southeast U.S. including Florida during January and February. Of course, this region will still see periods of warm and sunny weather, but occasional shots of Arctic air are expected deep into the southern U.S., and like last winter that includes the risk of wintry precipitation all the way to the Gulf of Mexico a couple of times during the season.
In addition, above normal precipitation is expected across much of the southern U.S. as an active subtropical jet stream crosses the region. This pattern will also increase the threat for severe weather at times during the winter across the Gulf States, including Florida.