Get out your woollies, this winter may be harsh

Seasonal forecast grim | U.S. forecasting service predicts temperatures below normal across much of the Prairies

This might be a good year to invest in a new parka.

AccuWeather has released its winter weather forecast for the Prairies, and it is downright ugly.

The forecast calls for below normal temperatures for most of Saskatchewan and Alberta. The nastiest conditions are expected in November and December.

“You may be looking at some pretty amazingly cold outbreaks,” said Jack Boston, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.

Manitoba is expected to have near-normal temperatures, except for the southwestern portion of the province, which will be below normal.

Boston blames the grim outlook on the jet stream, which will bring blasts of cold Arctic air down from the north and northwest rather than milder Pacific Ocean air from the west.

“You (will) get one Arctic air mass after another coming down without much in the way of breaks in between,” he said.

“It’s going to be a very cold winter.”

How cold?

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Saskatoon’s average monthly daytime highs and lows will be one to two degrees below normal.

That might not sound like much, but a one to two degree drop averaged over an entire month could mean that a few days in that month might have temperatures that are five to 10 degrees below normal.

“I think there will be more times where it gets below -30 C this year than there were last winter,” said Boston.

He expects plenty of cross-polar flows , in which air masses from Siberia cross the Arctic and then descend into central Canada.

Travis Toews, past-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, isn’t enamored with the forecast.

“I hope they’re wrong,” he said.

“With cold weather comes a higher calorie requirement for livestock.”

Fortunately, there is an abundance of corn, wheat and barley this year. There is also plenty of forage, but much of it is of low quality so producers may have to supplement it with higher energy feed ingredients.

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“They should be able to find it and find it at a lot lower cost than they would have a year ago,” said Toews, who operates a cow-calf operation and backgrounding feedlot west of Grande Prairie, Alta.

Adequate shelter will also be critical this winter if the AccuWeather forecast becomes reality.

“For producers who don’t step up and respond, the performance of their cattle will be lower (and there will) likely be potential issues at calving with weak calves and higher death loss,” Toews said.

Producers might want to get their feed tested if they are unsure of the quality.

The AccuWeather forecast calls for above normal snowfall in the Rockies and southern Alberta. The map shows near normal snowfall in eastern Alberta, Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba. The rest of Manitoba will receive below normal snowfall.

However, Boston’s analysis differs from what the map shows. He said Saskatchewan and Manitoba will have below normal snowfall.

“The storm track is going to be way too far south and east. The only snow you get is light snowfalls,” he said.

“It’s going to be real cold but we’re not looking for any significant snowfalls at this point.”

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