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Forecast sees warmer fall that could mean a milder winter


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As of Saturday, summer officially comes to a close. But for those fretting about the approach of winter, it is worth remembering there is still a whole season wedged between the two, neither hot nor cold but a comfortable temperature in between.

Autumn is around the corner, and it is an autumn that is expected to be well-balanced, if even slightly warmer than normal, according to forecasts from Environment Canada.

“The rest of the country, certainly the flavour looks warmer than normal,” said David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada. “And in Ontario I would hedge my bets a little and say maybe normal to warmer-than-normal, somewhere in there.”

Colder days are ahead, but not for a while yet, while the warm weather of the previous week is expected to carry on for the time being.

“We truly think there’s only two seasons in this country: winter and summer,” noted Phillips. “I know that there’s always that worry that ‘OK, we’ve had summer and now we’re going to get winter,’ and what kind of winter is it going to be? But I still think it’s too premature to give up on summery-like weather.”

Last year, for example, Waterloo Region enjoyed several plus-30 degree days even after the fall equinox, while this summer has been especially warm, notes Phillips.

“You know, this summer has been – I’m still singing the praises of this summer,” he said. “What was so nice about this summer, first of all, there was in total 21 days where the temperature got above 30. Last year, last summer I think there were … five days where the temperature got above 30.

“So I don’t think you should write obituary on summery-like weather.”

However, the days are getting shorter, says Phillips, while those nice warm days will become fewer and far between as the weeks move on.

“So we think the fall is going to be decent. It always tends to be not the long bouts of nice weather. You can’t count on five days in a row of having great weather, because often it’s the time when you’re getting a change of seasons. It’s hard for summer to hang on, and so therefore it tends to be one or two days.”

The best advice, he suggests, would be to be flexible when scheduling your fall activities, and be ready to move on those of warm weather as they arrive.

Whether a milder-than-normal autumn will give way to a milder-than-normal winter is far from certain. But Phillips suggests that Ontarians could expect to see a more forgiving winter this year.

“We see El Niño coming. This is the warm water in the Pacific. And when we have an El Niño, we generally have a milder-than-normal winter.

“So my sense is it won’t be as long of a winter, it won’t be as brutal. There will be moments, come on, we don’t cancel winter even in Ontario, but there’ll be moments you wish you were somewhere else. But I don’t think it’ll be the hoary kind of long, drawn-out, bitter cold winter of our youth.”

In the meantime, people will have a comfortable fall to look forward to. Those hoping to catch the change in colour of the surrounding foliage will also be in luck, adds Phillips, as the warm and wet summer was just right combination for those golden and red colours.

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