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St. Albert snow-free in November…and maybe December?

El Niño means warm, dry winter ahead, says meteorologist
Russ Burton took advantage of the nice weather to zip around the Woodlands Skate Park in St. Albert on Saturday Nov. 11

St. Albert just went through a hot, snow-free November, and could be in for a brown Christmas come December, a local meteorologist says.

The Edmonton region closed out November 2023 without a trace of snow on the ground — a sharp contrast to last year, when we had about 20 cm of the stuff.

“So far we have no snowfall recorded at the (Edmonton International Airport weather station) at all this month,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Alysa Pederson in a Nov. 29 interview — something that hasn’t happened since 1928. While there have been a few flakes here and there, none of them have stuck around to form snowpack.

Pederson said this has been the driest November on record for the Edmonton region and the driest fall on record for the region as measured at the Edmonton Blatchford weather station.

Pederson said it was also the region’s 14th warmest November in the last 144 years, with just two days where the daytime high was below zero and 28 where it was above. Edmonton typically gets just 20 days with a high above zero in November.

No snow to come?

Pederson said the warm, dry, November was due in part to global heating, which has made this year warmer in general. (The World Meteorological Association declared Nov. 30 that 2023 is set to be the hottest year globally on record, with temperatures as of Oct. 31 being 1.4 C above the pre-industrial baseline.)

Pederson said our current situation was also due to a shift in the jet stream which has left a blob of high pressure, stagnant air sitting on Alberta since September, deflecting moisture-laden air from B.C. to the north and south of us — what meteorologists call a “blocking pattern.” Apart from that snow dump in late October, that’s left Alberta pretty dry this fall.

December and January will likely bring more of the same due to the start of El Niño — a weather phenomenon where extra-warm ocean water by Chile messes with the jet stream, Pederson said. El Niño years are generally much drier than regular ones in Alberta, so don’t expect much snow in the next few months. A brown Christmas is a distinct possibility, as there isn’t any snow in the forecast for the next week. Pederson said last time the Edmonton region was snow-free on Christmas was 2005, which was another El Niño year.

Environment Canada’s seasonal forecast predicted above-normal temperatures and below-normal levels of snow for Edmonton from December to February.

The Gazette will have more on the implications of these weather trends next week.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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