Cold winter forecast, plentiful snow may offer needed moisture

Farmers can expect a “wild ride” this winter, according to The Weather Network’s 2017 winter forecast.

“It is potentially a very harsh winter ahead with widespread below seasonal temperatures and lots of shots of Arctic air,” said meteorologist Michael Carter.

The Prairies will experience the worst winter weather in the country with below normal temperatures throughout much of the region.

A developing La Nina event in the equatorial Pacific is responsible for the chilly forecast because it will affect the strength and positioning of the Pacific jet stream.

“We’re going to get parting shots of cold air that will last for a few days and then perhaps the pattern will relax for a little while,” he said.

La Nina winters tend to have a bit of reprieve from the cold air somewhere around mid-winter.

Predictions for above average snowfall in southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba may provide a silver lining to the forecast.

Carter said an area from about Edmonton and Saskatoon south to the United States border will have plenty of snow.

“It’s going to put us in a good position heading into the spring in terms of the soil moisture that is going to be available. Certainly, that is a relief after a very dry season through much of 2017,” he said.

The temperature forecast is consistent with AccuWeather’s winter forecast calling for prairie temperatures 1C to 4C below normal.

“We’re most confident this is going to be a colder than usual winter,” meteorologist Brett Anderson said in October when AccuWeather released its winter forecast.

AccuWeather’s precipitation forecast differed slightly from The Weather Network. It said Arctic air is dry, so while the cold will bring snow it won’t contain much moisture. Western Alberta will get decent winter moisture but the eastern Prairies will not. Areas that were dry heading into winter will be dry coming out of it.

AccuWeather said biting winds will accompany the frigid Arctic air.

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