Don’t let the incredibly mild October fool you. Winter is coming and it’s coming faster than many of us would like to see.
We are in the second year of a back-to-back La Niña also known as a “double dip.” These colder-than-normal water temperatures in the equator region of the Pacific Ocean are an influencing factor on weather patterns around the planet.
Here in Canada, an altered mid-latitude jet stream favours more cold and snow out west, with above-normal precipitation around Southern Ontario but often with bouts of warmer weather.
It’s important to keep in mind that no two La Niñas are alike and other factors often play into the winter weather pattern. This year we are watching an early season SSW (Sudden Stratospheric Warming) event which can be a precursor to a displaced polar vortex.
If this were to occur, it would likely be in late November and December, adding to the already chilly pattern we are forecasting around the Great Lakes. Those giant bodies of water are unusually warm for this time of year, thanks to the mild fall and an early Arctic outbreak would mean significant lake effect snow. It’s something we are looking out for.
The good news with an early start to winter is that ski resorts will be in great shape heading into the holidays with a combination of artificial and natural snow making for some deep powder turns.
It has become common in recent years for winters to be two-faced. Extreme cold can often flip to a lengthy January thaw, which is very likely to occur again this season. Even with a warmer-than-normal second half of winter, snow and rain episodes will be common across southern Ontario.
When making seasonal predictions we look at prior years with similar conditions to this year. Our number one analog for the upcoming winter is 2007-08, which was also a La Niña winter. It turned milder for a time but the snow continued and piled up to near-record levels across Southern Ontario. An incredible 432 cm of snow fell that season in Ottawa, with an also impressive 194 cm in Toronto.
I doubt a repeat performance is in the offing, but there will be no shortage of the white stuff for all you snow lovers out there.