During the past week or so, western and central Canada saw some wintry weather featuring some snow and colder weather. This winter preview was brought about by a ridge through the Gulf of Alaska that was able to help induce some cold air across northwest Canada.
Longer-range models had been onto this idea for the third week of November as far back as the very beginning of the month and did a decent job of forecasting the colder, snowier scenario. These same models also have been telling us that mild Pacific air would return to Western Canada before November came to an end, as the ridge breaks down and allows the main polar jet stream to move from west to east once again.
As we move into the last few days of November, we are indeed seeing an end of the briefly colder, snowier pattern as westerly winds are about to take hold. This will send temperatures to above and even well above normal levels by this weekend and at least well into next week.
The thin snow cover that has developed across Western Canada recently is likely to be trimmed back some as mild weather takes hold. The accompanying chart provided by Environment Canada shows this morning's snow cover across Canada, with the southern extent quite close to what we would expect for late November.
Temperatures are increasing significantly during the coming days, and we are also likely to see generally sunny, dry weather to go along with the milder weather. The westerly flow moving over the Rockies will slope down onto the Prairies and bring dry conditions; this will at times produce the familiar Chinook wind.
The upcoming weather pattern is quite consistent with what we would expect during a strong El Nino, like we currently have. Canada has a high chance of having above-normal temperatures during an El Nino and all of our computer guidance continues to show this during the next several weeks. To go along with the warmth there is likely to be less-than-average precipitation.
While the average temperature through the end of the year may be above normal, there will always be short periods of colder weather with some snow that come along that we are not able to forecast until several days in advance.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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