Outlook for Winter: Milder than normal

We won't see the Polar Vortex 'that arrives one day, and it's still there, three months later'

The weather forecast looks frightful…for the next few days, anyway.

But the outlook for the entire winter blows to the mild side, according to Environment Canada Chief Climatologist, David Phillips.

We chatted with David Phillips On What Barrie’s Talking About

We’ll be under the influence of another La Nina, which is the cold water from the Pacific that’s giving the West Coast some cold and snow it’s not accustomed to. For the East, Phillips says it can be a little more difficult to predict.

“One statistic I love to think about is the number of days below minus 20. We normally get about a dozen of those in the Barrie, Lake Simcoe area. Well, we had 17 of those suckers last year, and we got down to almost minus 29 degrees. The year before, also a La Nina year, it was milder than normal; we only had three of those very cool days. So you see, it’s not always a perfect score that you’re going to get when you have a La Nina.”

The mild Fall we had will also have an impact, in terms of lake-effect snow. Phillip says local lakes and bays are warmer than normal, which helps feed the lake-effect machine.

It fired up once already when places like Orillia and Wiarton (and Buffalo) saw more snow than they generally do in November.

“You get that cold blast that we saw there in November, and my gosh, over that warm lake it was like a hot tub out there. And that produces the perfect kind of recipe for getting this lake-effect snow, especially if the winds pick up and blow in a constant direction for several hours.”

Phillips says it will be a winter for everyone. Skiers, sledders, and ice-fishing enthusiasts will be happy at times. And so will those who love a good January and February thaw. “It’ll seem like spring in the winter. And that, I think, makes winter go faster…you get that kind of back-and-forth, not the polar vortex that arrives one day, and it’s still there three months later.”

Christmas looks like it will be white, with the snow already on the ground, and what we’re expecting in the coming days. But we were pretty much guaranteed a white Christmas in the Barrie area, anyway. The last six, and eight of the last eleven, have been white.

Oh, and with the arrival of Winter at 4:48 p.m. today (Dec. 21), we start getting more daylight hours. “It’s only seconds, but that is so uplifting. Before you get to the first day of winter, every day is a little darker than the next day. But then you come to December 21 and the days are getting a little longer. And that really is very therapeutic.”

banner image: Barrie 360 file photo