The Weather Network’s winter outlook suggests a continued lack of precipitation for some of the driest Prairie areas.
Released Wednesday, the forecast points to a generally warmer-and drier-than-normal winter season for Alberta and much of Saskatchewan amid one of the strongest El Nino events on record. Precipitation for Manitoba looks mostly average (see map below).
“This isn’t a good situation for the ongoing drought pattern in southern Alberta, carrying over from the summer,” said meteorologist Kevin MacKay.
Southern Alberta is perhaps in the toughest shape, with the latest monthly Canadian drought monitor showing a significant pocket of exceptional drought – the worst drought classification - southeast of Calgary. However, problems with dryness also extend into the more northern reaches of the province, as well as portions of southeastern and south-central Saskatchewan. Most of Manitoba remained in some form of drought as of the end of October as well.
The core of winter — December, January, and February — will begin mildly (relative to this time of year), with most Canadians not experiencing consistently cold temperatures until later in the season, the Weather Network said.
In fact, due to a relatively mild and dry pattern in the weeks leading up to holidays, some parts of Alberta that typically see a white Christmas will be at risk of a rare 'brown' Christmas this year, it added.
Of course, there will still be periods of high-impact winter weather in Alberta this year, but mild Pacific air is expected to be more prevalent than Arctic air. It’s also possible for colder and snowier weather to develop in Alberta later in the winter season.
For Saskatchewan and Manitoba, a milder than normal winter is expected across the region, especially across western Saskatchewan, as Pacific air will spread into the region from the west. However, there will still be periods of severe cold, especially during January and February across eastern parts of the region, including Winnipeg. But frigid conditions are not expected to be as persistent as they are during a typical winter.
Below-normal snowfall is expected across western Saskatchewan, but eastern parts of the province and Manitoba are expected to see near-normal snow totals.