LETHBRIDGE - If you're wishing for a white Christmas, you’d better wish really hard.
While the weather at this time last year was frightful, this year it's more likely to be delightful, with a few flakes possibly falling Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, according to Environment Canada Senior Climatologist David Phillips.
"There is no chance of a white Christmas. We see flurries. We don't get two centimetres of snow sitting on the ground (at 7.a.m, the definition of a white Christmas) with flurries. So, my sense is, you've got to dream a lot or maybe pray for a white Christmas. You're not going to get it from the weather gods."
Phillips says southern Alberta is known for its extreme weather conditions, going from light jacket weather one day, to bitterly cold, to extraordinarily windy in the next few days. Last year, much of the country was in the grip of a Siberian polar vortex.
"Last year, the coldest moment of the entire winter was the last day of December and the first day of January. It was the coldest beginning to a New Year's that really, we've seen in parts of southern Alberta...this year, it's like a province-wide Chinook."
This year, the mild weather can be attributed to a few things: a weak El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, a warm Pacific "blob" near the Gulf of Alaska, and arctic air staying well north of us.
And Phillips believes apart from a few potentially wet snow dumps, the winter will overall be much drier and milder than normal.
"I'll be betting more than a few loonies that this winter will be milder than normal, shorter than last year. Hard to know about the spring, but we think spring will be coming earlier than last year. So, ranchers and farmers will be able to get on their lands earlier."
However, it also means that there could be a lot less moisture for agricultural purposes and the potential for more grass fires.
"My hope is that if it is milder than normal, that you'll have the odd snowstorm that will be very sopping wet and will be kind of white gold for skiers, ranchers and farmers."
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