Canada says hello to fall and goodbye to summer. What to expect this year

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The changing of colours in Canada’s landscape during the fall is always accompanied by changing temperatures.

Canadians kissed summer goodbye on Thursday and welcomed in fall, with the season officially beginning with the fall equinox. It will run until the winter solstice arrives on Dec. 21.

Aside from apple picking, pumpkin carving and fall fairs, what can Canadians expect from the weather this time of year?

To start: warmth, said David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.

“Overall, when you look at the temperature, we are delaying the coming of winter,” he told Global News.

“We had a warm summer and that will help keep the fall going.… If you consider that good news, then I think it’s positive news for Canada this fall.”

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Why is warmth in store?

Canadians longing for summer to stick around are likely to be delighted by that news, as the warm weather was slow to come to the nation this year, Phillips said.

This year started with really cold weather across the country. Some places had lots of snow, and if other places didn’t have snow, they had cold. Some places had both, he said.

People use the cycle path system as warm fall weather continues in Calgary on Sept. 29, 2021. Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

As a result, spring was slow to warm up. The cold weather hung around in April before the warmth and active weather started to appear in May. From then, the heat came in what would be a warmer-than-normal summer for Canada.

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That heat has stuck around for the majority of September, and will carry over into October, Phillips said.

“I don’t see one square inch of Canada that’s showing colder than normal in our map of what we think October will be. A couple of areas are near normal, but the vast majority from coast to coast to coast is showing that more than normal,” he told Global News.

It won’t feel like July or August warmth, but it will be warmer than in previous Octobers, he added.

Click to play video: 'Fall family activities'
Fall family activities

Canada, of course, being such a vast country, will see fall play out differently in parts of the nation.

Take Atlantic Canada, for example, which on Friday was set to brace for the impact of hurricane Fiona. Atlantic Canada has “some of the best falls,” Phillips said, but with hurricane season still in full force, it’s not clear what more extreme weather it will get.

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In Ontario, with the Great Lakes still mild from the warmer-than-normal temperatures, the province will likely see some early-season lake-enhanced rain showers in places, which has the “potential to be a sign of what’s ahead later in the season as the really cold air arrives,” Global News’ chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell said on Thursday.

A woman looks out on the water during the Head and Tail of the Gorge rowing event in Victoria, B.C., on Oct. 16, 2021. Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press

In the Prairies, farmers will have a lengthy harvest thanks to the warm temperatures, Phillips said. And on Canada’s West Coast, British Columbia will likely see the warmth linger due to warmer waters around the region, he added.

Enjoy it while you can

However, the warm weather won’t stick around forever.

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“There are signs that winter weather will come in strong this year — especially in late November and December,” Farnell said of Ontario.

“Colder-than-normal temperatures and a much higher chance of lake-effect snow looks likely, according to computer models and our seasonal forecast, which also factors in past years with a similar global weather pattern.”

A runner is pictured from Ottawa as they make their way along the banks of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Que., on Oct. 12, 2021. The fall colours of Gatineau Park can be seen on the hills in the background. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The same goes for the rest of Canada, Phillips said.

“The front end of the fall is clearly going to be milder than normal for everybody,” he said.

“But we begin to see the cool off, more of the coming of wintry weather as we get towards the end of the year, November and December.”

Fall generally tends to be a “stormy” period in Canada due to the contrast of warm and cold air, which drive storms, Phillips said.

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People watch late-day sunshine from Riverdale Park East in Toronto on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Evan Buhler/The Canadian Press

Therefore, he advises Canadians who want to get outside and enjoy the season to not “procrastinate”

“People who want to go and enjoy the colour change landscape … don’t procrastinate because sometimes a wild windstorm can take the leaves right off the trees and you’ve missed it,” he said.

“It’s the colour change season, it’s nature’s gift to us as Canadians and people from around the world come here. You can forget your worries and your debts, and you can just marvel at the beauty of the Technicolor look of the forests and the trees.”

— with files from Ryan Rocca

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