Brace for ‘Game of Snows’ in Canada this winter, at least according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac

A pedestrian walks past a snowbank on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday, January 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Winter is coming.

That tired old Game of Thrones reference will have renewed meaning this year, as the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a particularly snowy season across the country this winter.

“This year it’s a ‘Game of Snows,'” said Jack Burnett, managing editor for the 2020 Canadian edition of the almanac, to Global News. “It’s going to be very competitive to see which area gets the most snow and the most episodes of it.”

Burnett says winter will be snowier and milder than average across the country. The only exceptions will be the southern regions of Alberta and B.C., where the weather will be “a little bit more wet than white.” Central and western Quebec will also be milder than the rest of the country.

“Of course, it’s still going to be cold, so that might mean a little more freezing rain,” Burnett said.

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Mid-November will likely bring cold temperatures to Ontario and snow to the Prairies and Atlantic Canada, he said. Quebec can expect snow by mid-November, while B.C. residents will have to wait until mid-December.

Burnett says it’s hard to predict at this point what the holiday season will look like. However, the trends point to a wet Christmas break in Ontario and “snowy periods” in the Maritimes and southern Quebec. He predicts the weather will be sunny and mild across the Prairies, while B.C. will see snow flurries.

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The almanac’s predictions are in keeping with Global News meteorologist Anthony Farnell’s reading of the weather patterns for this winter. He said it’s still quite early to predict, but based his thoughts on weather he’s seen this summer.

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“Lots of blocking this summer across the Arctic leading to extreme weather there,” Farnell said. “If this pattern holds for the winter, the cold air will get displaced farther south than normal, leading to widespread frigid temperatures across south-central Canada and potentially above-normal snowfall. I also think winter gets off to a late start again this year for Ontario and eastern Canada.”

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Almanac staff use a mix of modern meteorology, sun radiation analysis and historical trends to predict general weather patterns each year.

Burnett points out that his staff use the same data as Environment Canada, but they weigh that data differently in their own calculations.

“A lot of people think we have 100 woolly bear caterpillars running around on a table or something,” he said. “But it’s all computerized. It’s still faithful to the old method, and it’s pretty interesting how accurate it can be.”

The almanac was first published in 1792, and its staff claim their predictions are right about 80 per cent of the time.

Each edition of the book includes a wide range of conventional wisdom, folksy jokes, recipes and useful articles about nature, astronomy and farming.

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The latest edition is now available in stores and online.

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