The Senior Climatologist with Environment Canada says the first two weeks of December will not be a sign of things to come this winter in southern Manitoba.
David Phillips released his winter weather outlook on Thursday, which is the first day of winter on the meteorological calendar.
"I think it's really going to come and bite you deep and hard come next week and the week after," says Phillips, referring to the forecast for our part of the country.
The normal high for this time of year is -6 degrees Celsius. Phillips says Monday is going to be five degrees colder than that, and the very next day will be a full 18 degrees colder than normal. He notes the first two weeks of December will be raw.
"The polar vortex, the Siberian express, call it what you may, it's going to come down and fill every nook and cranny in Manitoba," forecasts Phillips. "You're going to know where you live, in a cold country."
But, according to Phillips, the second half of December will be a completely different story. He notes the brutal cold with extreme wind chills will be gone. Still, by the time December draws to a close, Phillips says the month will probably average out to be a little cooler than normal. If that happens, it will stop a streak of six consecutive months, starting in June that were all warmer than normal.
On the meteorological calendar, winter runs from December 1st to February 28th. Even though the month of December is expected to be cooler than normal, Phillips says winter as a whole looks to be near normal. Though the threat of cold air will still exist after December 31st, Phillips says it looks like there will be more pleasant days than brutally cold days.
Phillips admits this forecast is considerably different than what their models were showing just one week ago. He says it was beginning to look like southern Manitoba would be punished for six straight months of warmer than normal conditions. But the models have changed, and it now looks like Manitoba will be caught in the middle of the warm air to the east and the cool air to the west. This has resulted in a winter with much more normal temperatures. And then looking ahead to March, Phillips says that month should be warmer than normal.
Southern Manitoba will still be under the influence of a La Nina this winter. Phillips says this is the first time this century that we have had three consecutive La Ninas, which usually translates into a colder and snowier winter.
"I think sometimes La Nina is given too much credit for dictating what the weather is going to be over a season," suggests Phillips. "And this La Nina has probably peaked, it's on its way down."
It is his prediction that we will have a neutral situation in the tropical Pacific this spring.
When comparing this year to last, Phillips says this one will be "less winter-like." He recalls last winter that produced 70 days where the temperature dropped to -20 degrees. On top of that, was a very snowy winter, which was a catalyst for parts of Manitoba to break their previous record for the wettest year.
Phillips says they do not expect this winter to produce the same amount of precipitation. He also doubts we will experience the same phenomenon as last winter/ spring when southern Manitoba was hit by six Colorado Lows within six weeks, which ultimately produced a spring flood for the ages.
"Our crystal ball does not say how many Colorado Lows or Alberta Clippers, when and where," he explains. "We know the conditions that set up to cause those and we see a bit of that this winter with sort of warm in the east and cold in the west and when you get those kinds of contrasting air masses you can have kind of weather wars break out."
He says the only thing that is certain is that southern Manitoba will have a white Christmas this year. Though, he acknowledges that is as much a certainty every year for southern Manitoba, as death and taxes.