Winter might be a bit more bearable than normal on the prairies if the forecasts hold true.
Accuweather is the latest weather service to forecast a mild winter for Saskatchewan. Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson says average temperatures could be about three degrees above normal.
“A big part of that reason is due to the strong El Niño that’s ongoing in the Pacific Ocean,” Anderson said.
El Niño is, as Anderson explained it, the abnormal warming of the ocean water. The jet stream then splits with the southern part containing moisture directed towards California and the polar portion heading towards the Yukon.
“That leaves much of Western Canada in a void, meaning it’s not that cold, it’s not that stormy, and thus we end up typically seeing drier, milder conditions compared to normal.”
Anderson went as far as to venture that this will be one of the warmest winters on record. However, he admitted that this round of El Niño isn’t as strong as the one Saskatchewan experienced in the winter of 1997-98 when snow still wasn’t on the ground by Christmas.
“We think this one is going to be probably not quite as strong as that – maybe even as a high as second place.”
With the warmer temperatures, Anderson said the lower precipitation will be due to the prevailing winds coming out of the West. The air dries up as it moves down the Rockies. However, Anderson said the Rockies will still have enough moisture to keep skiers happy.