The lack of a clear El Niño or La Niña out in the Pacific Ocean means weather patterns across much of Canada are likely to remain changeable and active for much of the summer, top meteorologists are forecasting.
The Weather Network released its summer forecast Tuesday, and chief meteorologist Chris Scott said it may feel like being on a teeter-totter.
“When you’re going down, before you reach the bottom, someone jumps on the other side and you’re jerked right back up again,” he said. “That’s what our weather patterns are going through. They’re getting kind of jerked around by the overall patterns in the Pacific Ocean with El Niño.”
CBC Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe agrees that while most long-range outlooks are pointing towards a warmer than normal summer for B.C., there is still some uncertainty in the forecasts because of the uncertainty in the Pacific.
“When we don’t have a strong climate phenomenon in place like El Niño or La Niña, we don’t have as many clues to go on about what the summer will hold — which is why we are watching the temperatures in the equatorial Pacific closely to see if an El Nino is in the cards,” she said.
“While signs are still pointing towards a building El Niño this summer — which typically means hot and dry for Western Canada — it’s not guaranteed yet,” said Wagstaffe
“Pacific Ocean temperatures are not running quite as high as our 2015 summer, so overall conditions might not be as hot as our record year. But drought and wildfire concerns are ramping up with the long range forecasts.” Scott agrees that while British Columbia has had a cool spring, that should turn around for summer and it’ll end up being a little warmer than average — though he also notes that it shouldn’t be excessively hot like 2014 and 2015.
Scott predicts precipitation-wise, the region should get the average amount of rain — which is to say, not a ton — but that could also present an issue for forest fires.
And since much of the rainfall in the summer comes from scattered showers and localized thunderstorms, some areas will receive heavy rain at times while a few kilometers away there could be none.
In the Prairies, temperatures will vary by region. Scott said Alberta could get some of the same warm temperatures as British Columbia, but the eastern Prairies can expect it to be cooler than average. And while there may be a few dry pockets, meteorologists aren’t predicting any prolonged droughts.
In the North, Scott said the Yukon can look forward to a warmer than normal summer. Much of the Northwest Territories will see near normal temperatures, but southern Nunavut should expect a cooler season than usual. Scott said it won’t be as hot or dry in Central Canada as last summer.
“We will be on that battle ground, between warm to the south — and hot, humid weather at times — and cool to the north,” he said. “We’re painting in much of northern Ontario with below normal temperatures, most of southern Ontario with near-normal and just a little bit of southern Quebec at above-normal.”
“Versus last summer, I wouldn’t say a cooler summer — let’s just say not as hot,” he said, adding there won’t be quite as many days above 30 C as there were in Toronto last year.
In terms of precipitation, he said it may be a little bit above normal, though the regions affected by flooding in the spring likely won’t have to worry about further issues in the summer.
Meanwhile, Scott said the southern parts of the Maritimes will be a little bit above normal temperature-wise.
But he added that in Newfoundland and Labrador, it may be chillier than average whenever there’s a wind coming off of the ocean, which is cooler this year than it usually is.