After El Nino, Peace Region could be in for a cold, snowy winter

Region could see its first La Nina since 1999

After a record-breaking El Nino, the Peace Region could be in for a colder, snowier winter. 

That’s according to early forecasts from Environment Canada meteorologists, who say there’s a good chance Northeast B.C. could see its first significant La Nina event since the winter of 1998-99.

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“What happens often after an El Nino phenomena is La Nina, the counter-effect, for the following year,” said Environment Canada Meteorologist Armel Castellan. “There is a bit of a signal there, but it’s not going to be very strong. It will be a weak La Nina if there is one.”

El Nino and La Nina are meteorological phenomena that influence weather in Western Canada between October and March.  

Meteorologists are able to forecast the phenomena based on temperatures in a band of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. According to Castellan, La Nina occurs when the average sea surface temperature in that region is half a degree below normal. 

“We’re starting to edge towards that minus point-five degree,” he said. “If it does cross (that threshold), sure enough we’ll have a legitimate La Nina phenomena.” 

Most meteorological agencies are giving 55/45 odds that we’ll see La Nina this year, Castellan said, but cautioned that it’s still to early to say with certainty. 

Environment Canada releases its official winter forecasts in November.  

It would follow one of the strongest El Nino events in recent memory, which saw record-high temperatures and low snowfall in the Peace last winter. 

“That affected so much of Western Canada and parts of Eastern Canada as well, with much higher than normal temperatures,” Castellan said, adding many regions broke daily and monthly temperature records. 

B.C. saw its last significant La Nina after another strong El Nino in 1997-98. 

“That winter broke a lot of records in terms of snow fall. This winter is a little different because the signal’s not nearly as strong, but it is something we’ll be following over the coming weeks and months,” he said. “I expect we’ll have a little bit more certainty around (whether) we’re entering a La Nina or not. If not, we’re expecting fairly normal conditions for the winter.” 

He said temperatures and precipitation are expected to be average throughout the fall.   

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