It may feel like winter already but technically, it’s still fall. So what kind of winter will it be?
If you are using the Idaho low as a reference — a weather system that formed on Sept. 26 and then slammed into southern Alberta, dropping up to 80 centimetres of snow in some regions — you might be overshooting it a bit.
A weather system that brought storms which saw winds reach 130 kilometres per hour in some areas on Oct. 25, or the one that delivered an EF-0 tornado on Sept. 10 in Carbon, also may not be the best indicator of what is to come this winter.
Environment Canada meteorologist Sara Hoffman says “when it comes to Alberta, we are looking at a warmer than normal winter, and normal to above normal precipitation is expected.”
But that above normal precipitation is only for the northern regions of Alberta. The central and southern regions can expect an average amount.
Environment Canada says a normal average temperature for winter in Edmonton is -8.9 C, and for Calgary it is -6.4 C. That is based on normals from 1981 to 2010. Last year, the average in Edmonton was -10.8 C, and in Calgary it was -8.7 C.
However, that does not mean there won’t be some twists and turns along the way.
“We don’t have a good indicator like El Niño, or La Niña — we are still ENSO neutral as they call it,” Hoffman said.
“So we can’t exactly say we’re in El Niño and that means this, or we’re in La Niña and that means this — for the Prairies — so it comes down to the models that we run, and the equations that we run.”
What Environment Canada can say with more certainty is whether or not Alberta is likely to have a white Christmas — the chance probability of at least 2 cm or more of snow on the ground.
Edmonton is sitting at an 87 per cent chance of getting a white Christmas, while Calgary currently has a 59 per cent chance.