Canada 2011-2012 Winter Forecast Update

December 9, 2011; 6:12 AM ET
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While there were not many changes to the initial release of the 2011-2012 Winter Forecast for Canada, a few changes are anticipated that may send thousands running out to buy winter driving kits for their cars and others prepping their snowmobiles.

The slight changes are a result of a weaker La Niña expected and less confidence in a blocking pattern setting up, according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Updates to the Canada Winter Forecast:

-Less widespread warmth is anticipated across northeastern Canada.

-More storminess with above-normal precipitation is expected across Ontario.

-More snow is expected to fall around the upper Great Lakes.

-More persistent frigid, arctic air will grip Alberta as well as British Columbia.

A region-by-region breakdown of the 2011-2012 Winter Forecast for Canada can be found below.

Atlantic Canada: Tame vs. Stormy

While it is still expected to be a generally mild winter for Atlantic Canada, less widespread warmth is expected to grip northern parts of Atlantic Canada than previously thought.

Anderson still described the winter expected for northern parts of Atlantic Canada as "tame" with below-normal snowfall.

Farther south, the winter will start out as tame for the Maritime provinces, then turn more stormy.

"A secondary storm track up near Nova Scotia for the second half of the winter may lead to more snow over the interior Maritimes with more of snow, rain and a wintry mix toward the coast," Anderson said.

Changeable, Mixed-Bag Winter in Quebec

"It will not be a consistent, brutal winter in Quebec, but rather a changeable, roller-coaster ride," according to Anderson.

It will be a good season for skiing and snowmobiling in ski country, north of Montreal and Quebec City, especially starting in January.

Stormy in Ontario

A stormy season is even more likely for Ontario, which will lie near the frequent storm track.

"Snow will get cranking across northern and central Ontario," according to Anderson, who is predicting above-normal snowfall for northern and central portions of the province. In this zone, there should be an above-normal occurrence of snow days, where more than 5 cm of snow comes down.

Southwestern parts of Ontario are expected to have near-normal snowfall with episodes of milder temperatures that could lead to more occurrences of rain or a wintry mix.

"Toronto will have a cloudy, dark and stormy winter, but it will not be that cold," said Anderson.

Water temperatures of the Great Lakes are running a couple of degrees Celsius above normal, which "ups the ante" for a major lake-effect snow event, assuming a very cold air mass and wind arrive for an extended period of time.

Dry, Cold and Windy in the Prairies

Cold, dry weather is in store for the Prairies with the active storm track expected to spread farther south and east across Ontario.

Below-normal precipitation and below-normal snow days are expected across much of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

"With the presence of a stronger northern jet stream during a La Niña winter, it will also be winder than normal across the Prairies," said Anderson.

Stronger winds mean that there can be brutal RealFeel® temperatures as well as poor travel with more episodes of blowing snow and poor visibility. However, temperatures are forecast to be near normal for the northern Prairies.

The major cities, such as Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg, will endure another cold, blustery winter but few snowstorms.

Coldest Air in Decades in British Columbia; Another Cold One in Alberta

In the initial winter forecast for Canada, Brett Anderson said that this winter could be one of the top three coldest winters in the past 20 years for Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.

Anderson now expects more arctic cold to penetrate Alberta as well. Edmonton, Alberta, will get in on the harsh winter cold once again.


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