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East Coast winter weather predictions all over the map; could be warm fall

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is calling for a rainier winter than normal for Atlantic Canada. The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac says colder than normal. Environment Canada says it’s too early to tell.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is calling for a rainier winter than normal for Atlantic Canada. The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac says colder than normal. Environment Canada says it’s too early to tell.

When it comes to the age-old question, what’s the weather going to be like this winter, predictions are all over the map.

“The 2018 Canadian Farmers’ Almanac is anticipating a return to a colder, more normal winter from Quebec east into the Maritimes, with many locations experiencing above-normal precipitation,” it said on its website. “From the Great Lakes going east across Quebec, and into the Maritimes, snowier-than-normal conditions are expected. Winter temps should also be 1–2°C below normal over the eastern two-thirds of the country. We are red-flagging January 20 to 23, February 4 to 7 and 16 to 19, and March 1 to 3 and 20 to 23 as time frames for major coastal storms along the Atlantic Seaboard to bring strong winds and heavy precipitation.”

Not so, reads The Old Farmers Almanac’s annual weather summary for November 2017 to October 2018. “Winter will be rainier than normal, with slightly above normal temperatures and near- to below-normal snowfall,” its website claims. “The coldest periods will be from late December into early January and in mid- to late January, with the snowiest periods in late December and early and mid-February. April and May will be rainier than normal, with near-normal temperatures. Summer will be warmer and rainier than normal, with the hottest periods in early July and mid-August. September and October will be slightly warmer and drier than normal, despite the threat of a tropical rainstorm in late September.”

Too Soon To Tell

Ask Environment and Climate Change Canada, and they will tell you it’s too soon to tell.

In an interview, meteorologist Linda Libby said from looking at charts for November to January, there’s an “equal chance of anything happening for the whole country” as far as precipitation and temperatures go at this point. There aren’t any areas showing a trend at all, she said.

“We’re not getting enough of an indicator to tell us anything.”

As for the fall forecast for September to November, Libby said there is a 55 to 80 per cent probability of above normal temperatures for Nova Scotia, averaged out over the three-month period. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be periods where the temperatures will be below normal.”

Information for the fall precipitation forecast again “doesn’t show any trends for most of Canada where above, below, or normal precipitation is being indicated and certainly nothing at all for Atlantic Canada and Nova Scotia,” said Libby, making it “equally likely” for any amount of rain to fall. Libby said the same analysis is also what is being indicated for New England and Gulf of Maine.

Weather Variable

The weather over the summer months for the eastern seaboard has been variable for areas around the Gulf of Maine and into the Maritimes. From the latest climate bulletin, Libby said there have been drought conditions in parts of the Maine and into the Maritimes, and flooding in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

“It’s pretty variable what’s going on out there,” said Libby, noting temperatures have been up and down throughout the summer. “We even had a frost warning for New Brunswick in July which was a little startling. There is not one condition that has been predominant this summer. It’s been up and down conditions and certainly is impacting the agriculture and other sectors.”

With late summer and early fall also comes hurricane season. So far, there have been eight named storms this season in the Atlantic Basin. Only two have made it to Canadian waters and none have made landfall, said Libby. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting 14 to 19 named storms this season, which is slightly above the average.

“Normally we don’t get direct hits by hurricanes but it does occasionally happen,” said Libby. Damage to trees, infrastructure and roadways, downed power and communication lines, and flooding are “the very least of what can occur,” said Libby, even with a passing tropical storm.

Libby said people are well advised to keep themselves informed with weather updates and have a plan in place of what to do and what to have in the case of severe weather.

“It’s really a matter of getting yourself aware and prepared,” she said. “It only takes one to affect you and that is the one you need to be prepared for; the one that really affects your life.”

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