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Don't worry Alberta, winter is coming

Dr. Doug Gillham
Meteorologist, PhD

Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 6:48 PM - Across western Canada it feels like the seasons are going in the wrong direction. While this region is no stranger to wild swings in temperature, it is unusual to have the first two week of December so much warmer than the first two week of November.

The map below shows the temperature anomaly pattern that we saw during the first twelve days of November. 

The various shades of blue, green and violet highlight the colder than normal temperatures that we experienced to start November, with some areas nearly 10°C colder than normal.

In contrast, the first twelve days of December has been much warmer than seasonal across most of western Canada. The various shades of orange, red and white highlight the regions that have been warmer than normal so far during December with some spots running over 10 degrees above normal.

This has many asking when winter will finally arrive and whether there is any chance for a white Christmas.

The end of the very mild pattern is in sight, but not until next week. While parts of southern Alberta near the foothills will see some light snow late Friday and Friday night (of this week), mild temperatures will continue to dominate through Monday of next week. 

However, Arctic air building to the north will start to plunge south during the middle of next week (though exact timing is still uncertain). This colder pattern will then dominate across most of western Canada for the remainder and of 2017. 

The map below is a model forecast that fits well with our thoughts regarding the weather pattern during December 20th – 25th. While it is too early to know whether a storm will take the right track to deliver widespread snow in time for Christmas, this pattern will provide the opportunity for snow and any snow that falls should be able to stick around through Christmas and beyond.

While there still could be brief interruptions with milder days at times, the shift to a colder pattern is expected to dominate through the holidays and continue as we head into the heart of winter. The map below is a model forecast for the final five days of 2017.

So, be sure to enjoy the mild weather while it lasts. While winter has been delayed, I am sure that it comes as no surprise that it will arrive eventually (next week) and when it does so, it looks like it will come with a vengeance – and hopefully also deliver a coating of snow just in time for a white Christmas.


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