October 26th, 2020

‘The Blob’ could bring reprieve from harsh winter for southern Alta.

By Mabell, Dave on November 21, 2019.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald


Hold onto your hats, scarves and gloves! We may be in for a long, frigid winter.

That’s the word from the Weather Channel, as Albertans slog through another wet snowfall.

Much of Canada will be dealing with a harsh winter, forecasters say, with temperatures at or below winter averages in many regions.

But while Saskatchewan and Manitoba will remain in the deep freeze for months on end, the weather experts predict Albertans will experience more changeable weather, with mild spells now and again.

Meteorologist Doug Gillham says “The Blob,” a recently discovered area of unusually warm water in the North Pacific, may have an impact on Alberta as well as British Columbia. As well as bringing milder-than-usual conditions to the West Coast, he says it may also move the prevailing jet stream a little east – putting much of Alberta on its warmer side.

The ocean is two to four degrees warmer than usual in some places, he says, and this could have more impact this year than a possible “El Nino” situation – on both sides of the Rockies.

“It’s a skiers’ delight,” Gillham expects, with above-average snowfalls in Alberta’s ski resorts along with resorts in southeastern B.C.

Alpine temperatures may remain warmer than usual, he adds, adding to outdoor sports enthusiasts’ comfort.

After dealing with snow in September and an early cold snap in October, Gillham notes Albertans have been enjoying a relatively mild November. But they know how quickly their weather can change.

Chinooks can be part of those changes, and Gillham says southern Albertans can hope for a typical number. Last winter, he notes February and March proved “historically” cold, with no reprieve.

“You will get your breaks” this winter, he expects.

Just how long winter will last is difficult to forecast, this far out, but Gillham says “The Blob” – still lacking a scientific name – may bring a little more warmth as spring approaches.

But Albertans usually see more snow in April, he cautions.

“Last April there was about 13 centimetres.”

And that won’t be much compared to other parts of Canada, the forecast suggests.

“Much of Canada is in for a harsh winter,” Weather Channel experts agree. Manitoba and Saskatchewan face “a long and frigid winter,” with snow-prone cities like Winnipeg getting at least their usual amount.

In Central Canada “we expect a long, cold and snowy winter.” Ontario and Quebec could face “extended periods of severe cold” during mid-winter and later.

And areas of Atlantic Canada will also see “an abundance of winter weather, especially during the middle and end of the season,” weather forecasters say.

Canadians in the north will experience a typically cold winter, they add. But closer to the Pacific Ocean, they’ll be getting a break.

“Above-normal temperatures are expected to dominate across western areas, including Whitehorse,” the Weather Channel predicts.

That holds for Vancouver Island and south coastal regions as well.

“Residents of British Columbia are typically the first to see the arrival of spring conditions and this year should bring an especially strong start to the season during March.”

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