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2011 Canadian Forecast – Will Winter Make a Comeback?

Please note: This is for the winter of 2010-2011.
Farmers’ Almanac’s Canadian Winter Outlook for 2011-12 can be found here »

(The following overview is for Canada. To read our predictions for the United States, click here).

The suspense is finally over. The 2011 Canadian Farmers’ Almanac is on shelves now, and our much-awaited long-range forecast for the coming year is no longer a secret. This year, the big question on many Canadians’ minds is whether or not the coming winter will be a repeat performance of last year, dubbed by many “the winter that wasn’t.”

The winter of 2009-10 was the warmest winter on record for Canada since nationwide recording began in 1948. On average, it was 4° C warmer than a typical winter, and brought far less snow than usual, making the moniker “the Great White North” seem like an overstatement. As predicted in the 2010 Canadian Farmers’ Almanac, only a few areas of Saskatchewan and northern prairies saw anything close to winter’s true fury this past year.

So will this winter be as mild as last winter?

2010/11 Farmers' Almanac Winter Outlook Map (Canada)

2010/11 Farmers' Almanac Winter Outlook Map (Canada)

The short answer is, “probably not.” In fact, the strange upside-down weather pattern that was experienced last winter is, in reality, a naturally occurring part of the climate system and simply represents a temporary redistribution of heat energy across the Northern Hemisphere, caused by the potent global El Niño system that took hold during the summer of 2009 and ended during this past summer. During El Niño years, strong jet stream winds carry cold air further south than normal, causing typically cold areas, such as Canada and the northern United States, to see warmer, drier winter conditions than normal, while generally warmer areas experience colder, wetter conditions than normal.

For the coming year, though, the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac predicts that Old Man Winter will make a comeback, bringing back much colder conditions during 2010-11, particularly to the eastern half of the country. Applying our secret formula, we believe the upcoming winter season will display a split personality nationwide, with unseasonably cold temperatures in Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, southern and eastern Quebec, and southeast Ontario. The Maritime Provinces and the Gaspé Peninsula will experience particularly frigid temperatures; the equivalent of a cold slap in the face, after last winter’s relatively balmy conditions.

Meanwhile, much of central Canada will see near-normal temperatures. This includes western Quebec, much of Ontario, Manitoba, and eastern and central Saskatchewan. In these areas, Ms. Nature will mix intervals of unseasonably mild temperatures with periodic shots of bitter cold; average it out and it comes out–average!

Farther west, in western Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, milder-than-normal temperatures are expected. Although not quite as mild as what was experienced last winter, it will be a marked contrast to the frigidity that we project will cover the eastern sections of the country.

Precipitation-wise, if you like snow, you should head to western Quebec, much of Ontario and the eastern half of Manitoba, where snowier-than normal conditions will prevail. A heavier-than-normal dose of precipitation will also hit British Columbia and western Alberta, while the remainder of the country will see near-normal amounts of winter precipitation.

For a more detailed forecast for your region, keep your eye on our long-range forecast, or pick up a copy of the 2011 Canadian Farmers’ Almanac, in stores now.

35 comments

1 Bam { 12.25.11 at 12:12 pm }

I would like to see some normal cold winters in burnaby bc. No were not winter capital of canada paid but we have been receiving way less snow than usual. We too many winters this last 10 years… do you have reached snowfall at richmond st vancouver airport is 45+Xmas per year. In burnaby we would see if a 15 to 30 centimeters more than that Just 20 kilometers from wifey are… I cannot understand vancouver residence wanting 8 months of the year to beat dreary rainy went a little bit of a cold snap can bring some nice drive snowing of vancouver. send eastern canadian mint vancouver it’s at the eastern canada myth that vancouver doesn’t get snow in the winter or if we do it’s at the freezing mark and more slash than snow.

I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve seen an increase in mild winters… as we had the first snow this year thinking beat toronto to the first snowfall of the season. 2011-12 this year… stop the rain and bring on the cold snap and snow to break up 9 months of rain…

2 Barbara { 11.23.11 at 7:40 pm }

I sure hope we get lot’s of snow in Abbotsford, Fraser Valley and West Coast of BC this winter…I’m SICK of this stinkin’ rain…..UGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

3 cindy { 09.26.11 at 2:20 pm }

l live near Medicine Hat and No way. we had a good winter. a few days of cold. but not a whole pile of snow. it went over us, around us, beneath us. but WE did not get near as much as everyone else did. we are sitting int the BESTEST spot in Alberta. Hottest City in the summer and Not to bad in the winter, yes we get our cold but it does not last for weeks on end. nor does the snow. we get two or three good falls and then chinook comes in and da da gone !!! Happy winter 2010-011 toodles

4 marty { 09.06.11 at 7:17 pm }

i don’t know where you get your information from but last winter in Alberta at least we had one of the worst winters in 20years. the snow was waist deep all over and there were more cold days in a row than i can remember ever happening.

5 valerie { 09.06.11 at 1:45 pm }

The heat we get in summer (30, 31) on the East Coast of Van Island (not Victoria) is just unbearable, and makes me ill. I hate it. Oh, for some coolness1

6 Brian Ramirez { 09.04.11 at 7:15 pm }

Canada is more than 40 times the size of the UK. Any attempt to generalize any characteristic of Canada and then compare it to the UK is like comparing the diversity & grandeur of a mountain to a pebble. The province of B.C. alone is 4 times the size of the U.K. with a far more pleasant climate than the UK’s. You can actually water-ski and swim in the sun here vs. freezing your bum off in the North Sea. So where do you get off characterizing ALL of Canada as the frozen tundra? If you don’t like one spot in Canada, there are 40 alternate choices for every godforsaken, freezing, Middlesbrough, or Edinburgh in the UK.

7 Liz wright { 08.16.11 at 4:57 pm }

The weather people cannot predict the weather four hours ahead. They have a 50/50 chance of being right. I watch the animals and trees. If the horses, and cattle get heavy fur in early oct, it will be cold. The trees make a lot of seeds for feeding which I have found to be a lot of snow. Watch nature and you can get a really good idea how cold or snowy winter will be. will be.

8 joelle kelly { 07.15.11 at 10:46 am }

I live in Eastern Onatio , i would love to see as little snow as possible this year for a change , it would not hurt my feelings at all , tired of all that shoveling ,But having a good snow fall on Christmas Eve that would be nice …

9 Terry { 04.20.11 at 5:37 pm }

I think the weather will get colder in the northern parts of the world because the north atlantic current is being changed by the Ice caps melting and cooling the ocean like ice in a glass just like the day after tomorrow movie its true it is really happening!

10 Alison { 04.19.11 at 7:48 pm }

I must move to Eastern Canada you have real winters, the UK is far too warm for me, ahh the bliss of cold springs, how nice. I am seriously tempted to emigrate, I love bitter cold and snow. Very rare and short lived in the UK.

11 Tammy J { 03.03.11 at 5:59 pm }

I’d have to say that the Almanac has been out to left field. Just look at the map and it says “mild temps”. Edmonton has been in a horrible deep freeze for most of 2011 thus far. (Iqaluit has had better weather!)

12 DEANA { 01.25.11 at 11:46 pm }

lIVE AT WETASKIWIN ALBERTA, WE HAVE FOUR FEET OF SNOW OUT IN OUR FIELDS, THIS IS WHAT WE NEEDED. GOOD SNOW COVERAGE IS FAR BETTER FOR PERENIALS, ETC, NOT TO MENTION PUTS WATER IN DUGOUTS THAT HAVE BEEN NEXT TO BONE DRY. WHEN YOU GET LOTS OF SNOW, THE CROPS WILL GROW.

13 pikkly { 01.08.11 at 8:11 pm }

well we’re in to the 8th day of January, and since yesterday at noon., my place near Whitecourt, Alberta (snowmobile capt of Alberta) has gotten over 2 feet of snow and it’s still coming down. time for it to stop anytime now…lol

14 james cox { 12.17.10 at 11:25 am }

I wish that they would give us a good heavy snowfall before xmas that would last ontil the middle of april,then after all the snowmobiling is over we could get into the fishing.

15 bryn { 11.17.10 at 11:09 pm }

is lethbridge going to be warmer or colder in alberta

16 Larry { 11.15.10 at 8:57 am }

So when do you think the first snow fall will be in southwestern Ontario? Then how much snow do you think we will get this year.

17 sheldon { 11.09.10 at 12:47 am }

is going to be a cold winter sask

18 haig { 11.05.10 at 2:57 am }

BC will get snow this year im form Vancouver island and last year we had a break with the snow but this year we will have more snow because it seems like every other year we get a coldsnap followed by low fronts making snowfall this year we are dude for a coldsnap so we will most likely see low fronts in the wake of artic air making it snowy for a few weeks of the winter

19 Val { 10.29.10 at 11:50 pm }

Well now this is interesting… Environment Canada’s forecast is COMPLETELY opposite! Since I live in BC, I’ll put my money on this one… much better news for us! :)

20 Krystal { 10.26.10 at 4:11 pm }

We better get some sick snow in the mountains this year, conditions were brutal last year!

21 Dude { 10.22.10 at 10:31 am }

Im just praying for snow in mtl ths year… Mtl with no snow just doesnt feel right

22 WeatherE { 10.08.10 at 9:57 pm }

http://www.theprovince.com/technology/Wicked+winter+expected+Lower+Mainland+worst+Nina+since+1955/3640530/story.html here is what im thinkin is right and i do beleive it will be as cold as we think maybe colder….

23 Marnie { 10.08.10 at 9:25 pm }

I just moved to BC from Manitoba. At the first flake of snow – I am moving South – way South – like South America!!!!!!!!

24 daryl { 10.07.10 at 10:58 pm }

umm… Julie this is not speculation, the facts show that the ocean in the southern pacific has cooled off and when this happens the weather tends to lean more one direction than the other. It might not be as cold as we think but it will be at least an average winter unlike last year where it was very mild.

25 Julie { 10.07.10 at 10:01 am }

give me a break people, these are all speculations… just like the daily weather reports, they can be wrong or right too, even the day before, nevermind an entire season. get a grip and deal with whatever comes, you can’t do anything about it anyway… jeezus. get a life!

26 lisa { 10.07.10 at 1:53 am }

I read this and wondered if I was losing my mind. Did southern Alberta not recieve major snow that never stopped and it was cold. We had school closures due to cold, wet snow right till April.

27 Dave { 10.01.10 at 12:10 am }

Wendy….speak for yourself. Snow for the west, please!

28 WeatherE { 09.24.10 at 6:34 pm }

I to agree with daryl.. With this strong La Nina coming in this winter B.C is gonna get blasted with cold conditions and lots of snow..

29 daryl { 09.23.10 at 2:35 pm }

I don’t think it will be that mild for BC this year. Because El Nino is already over and La Nina has already started and is of moderate to strong strength. It is already stronger than the last La Nina we had that started in 2007. This means that BC should expect a cold and wet winter, and possibly a worse winter for 2011-12.

30 Slider { 09.15.10 at 7:53 pm }

I too own a snow removal company in Vancouver. Im praying for more freezing temperatures with high humidity !

31 Randy { 09.14.10 at 10:57 pm }

Why is it that every forecaster is predicting warmer weather on the East coast , for Ontario and extreme cold for weatern Canada? Who’s going to be right?

32 beyondyours { 09.09.10 at 11:29 pm }

I do snow removal in Vancouver BC. Will we get snow this year? Last season was a dud. ;) Anyone know? The prediction here is a bit vague (no one knows exactly of course). But does it look like it should be “snowier” then last winter?

33 Jonathan { 09.01.10 at 10:56 pm }

Ah (montreal) i hope i get some snow after a warm and dry winter last year does this mean i will get a good dump of snow for christmas???

34 Sue { 09.01.10 at 4:43 pm }

We (Vancouver) almost had a record dry spell for August, until we ended up with a one day record rainfall for August, and almost a one day record of rainfall period!! The leaves have just started to turn here. It’s much easier to shovel rain than snow. Oh I mean I’d rather have the rain than shovel snow.

35 Wendy Parker { 08.30.10 at 5:48 pm }

Glad to hear that BC will not too bad! Hope this is right, we westerns prefer the rain!

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