Wondering what winter in Canada has in store? A new Canada weather forecast has shed light on how an El Nino weather event will affect winter 2023, and it looks like it won't be a traditional season.
The Weather Network's 2023-2024 winter forecast says that this winter will feature one of the strongest El Nino events on record, contributing to a milder winter season that could leave some Canadians with a "brown" Christmas.
For those who don't know, El Nino is a weather phenomenon that typically peaks around December and results in dryer and warmer than usual conditions in the U.S. and Canada.
This year, the El Nino event will be a "major contributing factor" to how winter in Canada plays out.
"El Nino has a reputation for bringing mild winters to much of Canada and it appears that this winter will feature one of the strongest El Nino events on record," says TWN.
According to the outlet, while many Canadians have already gotten a taste of early wintry weather, the country hasn't experienced consistent cold weather, a pattern that will continue into December.
Near-normal or above-normal temperatures are expected across most of the country in the weeks leading up to the holidays.
However, the warmth doesn't mean the country will be spared from winter weather events — according to TWN, an "active storm track" is expected across the southern and eastern U.S. coast, with storms expected to impact Atlantic Canada and result in near-normal to above-normal precipitation totals for winter.
Here's a look at what each province can expect for the winter season.
In B.C., a classic El Nino winter pattern is expected, with above-normal temperatures likely.
"While arctic air will be felt at times, we expect fewer and shorter Arctic outflow events into the Vancouver and Victoria area compared to what we usually see during a typical winter," says TWN.
Most of the province is predicted to see below-normal precipitation, below-normal snowfall, and more sunshine than usual during winter, which could make for pleasant weather, although it might impact ski season.
However, it's expected that for the south coast region of the province, the dry pattern will be broken up by periods of wet weather, with a risk for "Pineapple Express" events, a name for a band of tropical moisture that can target the coast from B.C. to California and is associated with intense rainfall, mudslides, and flooding.
A "relatively mild" winter is expected across Alberta, including for cities like Edmonton and Calgary, with above-normal temperatures and below-normal snow totals.
This doesn't mean that the region will be free of winter weather, though — while mild Pacific air is expected to dominate over Arctic air, the region can still expect "periods of high-impact winter weather."
Unfortunately for those wishing for a white Christmas, The Weather Network says it's still too early to know for sure whether there will be snow on the ground, but that the mild and dry pattern leading up to the holiday could put some areas at risk of a "brown" Christmas.
During mid-to-late winter, Alberta is expected to see a cold pattern develop in the east.
"If the focus of the cold weather shifts further west than what we currently expect, then Alberta could end up seeing a more active pattern (potentially more snow) and periods of more significant cold weather," says TWN.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba
The Weather Network predicts that Saskatchewan and Manitoba will see a "milder than normal" winter season, especially for western Saskatchewan, as Pacific air will spread into the region from the west.
Despite the warm temperatures overall, there will still be periods of "severe cold" in the region, especially during January and February in eastern areas like Winnipeg. Thankfully though, winter isn't expected to be as frigid as it is traditionally.
While Saskatchewanians and Manitobans are typically "almost guaranteed a white Christmas," this year, there is a risk that the mild and dry weather pattern in the weeks leading up to Christmas will also mean a brown Christmas for parts of the region.
However, most in the provinces should see a white Christmas again this year, TWN says, with eastern parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba expected to see near-normal snow totals.
A mild start to the winter season is predicted for Ontario, with less snow than normal during the weeks leading up to Christmas, especially in the southern parts of the province, including Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa. However, TWN says it looks like a more wintry pattern will develop around the holidays, giving some hope to those dreaming of a white Christmas.
The weather outlet predicts a traditional winter pattern for January in the province, with the snowbelt areas eventually seeing an abundance of lake-effect snow when the colder weather comes in.
Southernmost parts of the province are expected to see near-normal snow totals, however, TWN says a slight change in the storm track would "have a major impact on the final totals."
Quebec will also see a mild start to the winter season, especially in western regions of the province, including Montreal.
If you're hoping for snow, TWN says there are "indications of a more wintry pattern developing around the holidays," that could help to ensure a white Christmas.
Heading into the heart of winter in the province, the weather outlet predicts that the region will see a quick transition to a more consistently cold winter pattern for most of January.
Areas near and south of the St. Lawrence River including Montreal, Sherbrooke, and Quebec City should see close to normal snow totals for the season, but, like Ontario, a change in the storm track could impact this.
A "near-normal winter," is expected in the Atlantic provinces, with periods of mild weather expected to be offset by periods of cold weather for near-normal temperatures overall.
An active storm track across the southern and eastern U.S. will take many storms out to sea rather than into Atlantic Canada, says TWN. However, a few systems are expected to bring near-normal or slightly above-normal snow and rain totals to the region.
A few winter storms are also expected to track through or north of the Bay of Fundy, contributing to mild temperatures and heavy rain for southern parts of the region like Halifax in Nova Scotia.
Some "moisture-laden" systems will also bring near-normal precipitation totals to Newfoundland and Labrador, including St. John’s and Corner Brook.
Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut
Milder than normal temperatures are expected across most of Canada's territories, although TWN notes that a cold start to winter across Alaska could spread into the Yukon at times.
Deeper into the season, a piece of the polar vortex could move to sit over northern Hudson Bay and Baffin Island, which would bring a period of chilly, colder-than-normal temperatures to the areas.
If you want to know when you'll have to break out the shovels this season, the Old Farmer's Almanac has released a month-by-month breakdown of winter in Canada that shows when snowstorms will hit in each province.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.