Canada's winter forecast: Cold and stormy courtesy of La Nina

Oct 14 2021, 6:50 pm

A weather phenomenon known as La Nina could play a role in this year’s winter season, with colder-than-normal Pacific temperatures creating storms and cold temperatures in Canada.

AccuWeather released its winter forecast Thursday, predicting that an amplified polar jet stream caused by La Nina could usher in colder air and more frequent systems.

Here’s a look at how that will play out across the country:

BC and the Rockies

La Nina’s effects will be felt most keenly in Western Canada, according to meteorologist Brett Anderson.

“The upcoming winter is expected to be fairly stormy from southern British Columbia through the Canadian Rockies with many opportunities for significant rainfall and strong winds along the coast,” Anderson said.

The weather sounds miserable for commuters, but it could be a boon for ski resorts.

“Abundant snowfall is expected throughout much of ski country from the Coastal Range of British Columbia through the Rockies of western Alberta.”

But skiers in northern BC and the Yukon could miss out because the primary storm track this winter sees systems coming in from the south.



More rain than usual is expected in Metro Vancouver, which is a departure from the past three winters that brought normal levels of precipitation.

“Based on what I see, I think this winter will be wetter than the past five winters in southern British Columbia,” Anderson said. “I think this winter will certainly put a dent in the ongoing severe drought across south-central parts of the province.”

Polar Vortex in the Prairies

polar vortex


People in central Canada may need an extra layer under their winter jackets this year. The Polar Vortex could be displaced from its usual area above the North Pole into central Canada.

This happened last February, and it could happen again this winter. Residents should be prepared for temperatures as low as -30Ā°C.

“I believe we may see at least three extreme blasts of bitterly cold air dropping down into the southern Prairies this winter,” Anderson said. “This winter will likely end up colder than the winter of 2018-2019 and the coldest winter since 2013-2014 in the region.”

More snow in Ontario and Quebec



La Nina’s influence on the polar jet stream could mean higher snowfall amounts in Ontario and Quebec.

The cold temperatures in the Prairie region could also send secondary storms further south.

“The majority of the snowstorms will track up into Ontario and Quebec,” Anderson said.

But Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa could see temperatures that are slightly above average. Anderson predicts the area around the Great Lakes will see a milder start to the season before more snow comes in February.

“The Great Lakes snow belts are likely to get less lake-effect snow compared to normal during December and January,” Anderson said. “But that may pick up by February with a possible increase in cold shots over mostly-open lakes.”

He also predicted favourable ski conditions with not-too-cold temperatures and plenty of snow in Quebec.

Atlantic Canada could see a mild winter

While Pacific water temperatures are cooler than normal, the Atlantic Ocean is warmer than average this year.

With the storm track skewing north and west and warm Atlantic temperatures, Maritimers could see a relatively mild winter with average snowfall.

But by February, more snow could be on the way.

“The greatest threat for powerful coastal storms in Atlantic Canada will come in February,” Anderson said. “The clash of advancing cold air from the west with the abnormally warm waters of the northwest Atlantic may lead to some rapidly developing storms with a lot of wind and heavy precipitation from the Maritimes to Newfoundland.”

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

+ News
+ Weather