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Where’s winter? So far an ‘unnatural’ grey and fog have loomed

Canadians are noticing a lot less snow than usual on many roads and ski slopes so far this winter, along with unseasonably warm weather that has set new temperature records in some places.

Many places seeing almost balmy weather since the start of December

A person walks through a slush puddle.

Canadians across the country are noticing a lot less snow than usual so far this winter, along with unseasonably warm weather that has set new temperature records in some places.

The standout locations for low snow levels and almost balmy weather since the start of December include Calgary and alpine resorts across British Columbia.

The unusual weather is thought to be largely driven by the oceanic phenomenon El Niño, where warmer waters cause the Pacific jet stream to move south, often resulting in areas in the northern U.S. and Canada having dryer and warmer winters.

In Calgary, there has been a record number of days above freezing in the last 30 days, according to CBC's climate dashboard, which shows weather data in real time from the Meteorological Service of Canada.

The average maximum temperature for the city, from Dec. 2 to Dec. 31, was 6 C — which is 6.9 C above average. Compared to the historic average, this is the highest average temperature ever recorded, the dashboard shows. Meanwhile, the total amount of precipitation in the form of rain was higher than average.

Unseasonably warm temperatures in B.C. have put a damper on ski resorts, including Whistler, with operators across the province saying they're struggling with unusually low snow levels.

Multiple temperature records were broken across B.C.'s south coast last Saturday, Including in Metro Vancouver, where temperatures surpassed the record daytime high set in 1998.

"I didn't see one area of Canada that could say that they were actually colder or even near-normal in December. It was quite remarkable. I've never seen that before," said Dave Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

"It was everywhere. People were singing the same tune: Where is winter?" Phillips told CBC News on Wednesday. "It doesn't feel like winter, It doesn't look like winter, and yet, it's winter."

Environment Canada meteorologist Terri Lang said last week that December will probably end up being the warmest on record for the bulk of areas with testing stations in Saskatchewan.

Winnipeg, known for sometimes having bone-chilling cold, had an average temperature of -5.8 C for the month, when the normal should be -13.2 C.

In the days leading up to Christmas, rain and warm temperatures broke records around Labrador.

WATCH | The last time El Niño resulted in a brown Christmas:

UVIC professor discusses implications of future brown Christmases

6 days ago

Duration 4:52

This winter is proving to be a disappointment for those who enjoy winter sports. On this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re looking back at another mild winter– in Winnipeg. Similar to this year, December 1997 was also an El Niño year. To discuss the implications of future brown Christmases, David Atkinson, professor and the chair of the University of Victoria's department of geography, joins Dan Burritt in conversation.

Foggy, rainy southern Ontario

Toronto and surrounding areas had twice as many rainy days and double the amount of rain they'd normally get in December, Phillips said.

In addition, the city saw 17 days of fog in December, when typically it would get four or five days.

In total, there were only 24 hours with clear skies for the month, and some of those were at night. Normally, people in the city would see 125 hours of clear skies for December, Phillips said.

"This is so unnatural for us," he said, calling the last 30 days "very gloomy, doomy, morose and depressing."

Going forward, Canadians should start seeing colder temperatures this winter, but a sudden freeze without snow cover could mean broken power lines and tree branches.

Phillips said should the mild temperatures and lack of snow continue, there could be negative implications once spring and summer arrive, including a greater chance of drought and forest fires.

"There's still time to get that moisture, but El Niño is not dead in the water; it's still a force," he said.

WATCH | Here's how El Niño works:

How El Niño works | CBC Kids News

1 month ago

Duration 4:22

El Niño is here! Learn all about the climate pattern and how it affects weather globally in this animated video explainer, hosted by CBC Kids News contributor Arjun Ram.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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