What’s in store for winter in Leeds-Grenville?

In this graphic from The Weather Network on Dec. 1, 2015, the forecaster is calling for a milder than average winter to start in the region followed by more seasonal temperatures in January and February. (The Weather Network via Newswatch Group)

BROCKVILLE – Those long bouts of frigid weather may not be on the winter menu in Leeds-Grenville, according to The Weather Network.

The forecaster is out with its winter outlook today (Tuesday).

“Everyone is looking forward to this winter forecast. I think people kind of dread it a little bit as well but it may not be as bad as people are expecting it to be,” meteorologist Kelly Sonnenburg told Brockville Newswatch.

She says daytime highs through December will be at or above our normal daytime high near the freezing mark.

“As we head into the second part of winter, January and February, we’ll likely see more of a winter-like pattern return. I don’t know whether that’s good news or bad news for people,” Sonnenburg laughed.

But she said it will feel warmer compared to last winter. “Temperatures did trend above seasonal for December … but as we headed into January, February, temperatures took a nosedive and they were much colder,” she said.

The normal daytime high for January in Eastern Ontario is minus 3 and in February it’s minus 2. Last winter, the January average was minus 6 and the February average was minus 10.

Overnight lows last winter were 10 degrees colder than normal.

“Looking ahead at this winter, while we will get into more of a winter-like pattern for January and February, it doesn’t look like we will see those prolonged periods of the really cold snap. So, instead of lasting four to almost seven days … it will be quick, colder shots, maybe a day or two,” Sonnenburg said.

Sonnenburg said the first part of winter is going to be milder, partly due to one of the strongest El Nino cycles since 1997. “The reason we’re seeing those seasonal temperatures come January and February is because we’re not seeing a full, typical. normal El Nino into the second part of winter.” Sonnenburg said. The pool of warm water in the Pacific Ocean, which moderates the North American climate, will not be hugging the coastline as it does in years where winters are more mild.

As for snowfall, Sonnenburg said it’s too early to tell how the storms will track up the east coast of the United States. “This really has been a tough forecast for this winter for meteorologists because of the placement of this track. If these lows travel a little bit further west, we could end up seeing quite a bit more precipitation. But if these systems take an easterly track, say off the (Atlantic) coast, we really won’t be influenced much by that.”

At this point, The Weather Network is anticipating near-normal amounts of precipitation. For Leeds-Grenville that’s about 130 centimeters (51 inches) of snow from December through February and 95-100 millimeters (5.1 inches) of rain.

She said the region had normal amounts of snow and rain, though there was more snow and less rain because it was unseasonably cold in February.

Sonnenburg said lake-effect snow will be another situation the region will experience.

“Brockville is definitely influenced by some lake-effect snow and when you have milder temperatures that means your Great Lakes won’t freeze over as quickly, which gives you more of a window to see these lake-effect events,” Sonnenburg said.

Winter officially arrives Dec. 21, 2015 at 11:48 p.m.

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