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AccuWeather’s 2023 Canada Spring Forecast

Spring is just around the corner, even if it might not feel like it for everyone in Canada.

The spring season will officially begin on the equinox, which will occur at 5:24 p.m. EDT on March 20, 2023. For those counting down to the seasonal transition, keep in mind meteorological spring already began on March 1.

No matter what spring calendar one person may follow, AccuWeather released its annual Canada spring forecast this week. Put together by AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson, who has decades of experience forecasting the weather in Canada, the seasonal outlook offers expert insight into the main weather themes expected across the country.

According to Anderson, the effects of La Niña, a global weather pattern marked by cooler-than-normal waters in the Pacific Ocean, will fade as the spring progresses.

So, what areas are gearing up for milder weather? And in what parts of the country should residents keep those winter coats handy? Read on for the answers to those questions as well as a complete breakdown of how the season is projected to play out across Canada.

The atmospheric pattern promotes a sustained southern dip in the jet stream across western Canada and into the northern United States during a La Nina phase, when sea surface temperatures in the open waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean fall below historical-average levels. ACCUWEATHER

During a La Niña phase, when sea surface temperatures in the open waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean dip below historical-average levels, the atmospheric pattern favors a persistent southward dip in the jet stream across western Canada and into the northwestern United States. That jet stream setup has significant implications for the weather themes for the coming season.

Anderson explains that this type of jet stream orientation will open the door for waves of chilly air to linger across much of western Canada, leading to a noticeable delay in springtime warmth. For those who live in major cities near Canada’s West Coast, it may be a good idea not to pack away those warm winter clothes just yet.

According to Anderson, springtime temperatures will be 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 2 degrees Celsius) below the historical average for this region.

During March, Vancouver, British Columbia, typically has high temperatures within a few degrees of 50 F (10 C) before eventually rising to around 60 F (15 C) by the middle of May. Farther to the north and east, in Edmonton, Alberta, high temperatures in March range from the mid-30s to mid-40s F (1.5-7.2 C). In May, temperatures in Edmonton rise to around 60 F (15 C).

For areas located in close proximity to the jet stream, such as southern British Columbia, the lower-than-historical-average temperatures will be accompanied by frequent bouts of precipitation, making it necessary for residents to keep those snow shovels and umbrellas out a bit longer.

Anderson explained that lingering snowfall will continue to fall across much of the West Coast and the Rockies. At the same time, areas along the immediate coast will experience more fog and low clouds than usual.

Although the unsettled weather pattern can disappoint those eager to get outside, the surplus precipitation could help curb the abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions in the central and southern portions of British Columbia.

And for those who aren’t ready to put the skis away just yet, the lingering snow will likely lead to an extension of the winter ski season for many resorts in the region.

After a few more weeks of cooler weather, spring will kick off right on time across the Canadian Prairies. Temperatures across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will settle mostly near the historical average, promoting a gradual warming trend over the next few months.

In southwestern Alberta, temperatures will likely remain below the historical average this spring, Anderson warns. This will lead to areas near Calgary and Edmonton being 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit (1-2 degrees Celsius) below the historical average.

In Edmonton, Alberta, high temperatures typically rise from the mid-30s F (1.1 to 3.9 C) in March to the mid- to upper 60s F in May (17.8 to 20 C). The spring warmup won’t be as significant this year due to the persistent dip in the jet stream that is also affecting western Canada.

For areas farther east, temperatures will rise right on cue this spring. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, the mercury will rise from the mid-20s F (4.4 below zero C to 1.7 below zero C) in March to the upper 60s F (18.9 to 21.1 C) in May.

The worst drought conditions across Canada can be seen across parts of British Columbia and the southern tiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan during the latter part of the winter. NORTH AMERICAN DROUGHT MONITOR

As for precipitation, Anderson warned that a below-average rainfall season is expected this spring, which s “not what the doctor ordered.” Southeastern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan both remain under moderate to severe drought conditions, according to the North American Drought Monitor.

When compared to January 2022, drought conditions have significantly improved across the Canadian Prairies, but Anderson cautions that the lower-than-historical-average rainfall this spring could cause drought conditions to worsen once again.

Compared to the other two provinces that make up the prairies, Manitoba is not experiencing widespread drought conditions. Less than 3% of the province is under a moderate drought, according to the North American Drought Monitor.

In Manitoba, heavy precipitation during the fall and winter months can lead to springtime flooding across the southern half of the region. According to Anderson, there is a moderate risk of flooding this spring.

“However, keep in mind it is still very early, and any major snow or rain events coupled with a late thaw could easily increase the risk later in the spring,” Anderson said, noting the exact threat level for significant spring flooding will be much more evident during the second half of March and into April.

Anderson says warm weather fans are in luck as spring is expected to get off to a quick start in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. However, according to Anderson, people who live in Ontario shouldn’t be so quick to pack away their winter weather gear.

Much like the jet stream will usher in unsettled weather to British Columbia, it will also bring relentless rounds of rain and possibly even a few late-season snowstorms to southern Ontario during the spring months.

Cars are covered in snow following the largest snowstorm of the season in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on March 4, 2023. CREATIVE TOUCH IMAGING/GETTY IMAGES

Toronto is no stranger to unsettled weather, either. The first few days of March brought snowy weather to Canada’s largest city. Toronto measured its snowiest day of the season so far on March 3 when 7.3 inches (18.5 cm (0.61 feet)) of snow fell. The day after, an additional 2.3 inches (5.8 cm (0.19 feet)) fell across the city.

Since Oct. 1, Toronto has measured 48.9 inches (124.21 cm (4.08 feet)) of snow this season. The city has also measured over 14 inches (35.56 cm (1.17 feet)) of rain since Oct. 1. Combined, this is more than 105% of its historical average precipitation.

However, temperatures in Toronto haven’t been considerably low. The city averaged a high temperature of 43.3 F (6.27 C) this winter, about 5 F above the historical average.

As temperatures mainly stayed above freezing, ice struggled to form across the Great Lakes. In fact, according to Anderson, ice coverage across the Great Lakes has been abnormally low this winter.

Ice coverage on the Great Lakes as of March 6, 2023. (NOAA)

As of March 6, only 9.2% of the Great Lakes was covered with ice, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory National Ice Center. This time one year ago, about 50% of the Great Lakes were covered in ice.

Without ample ice coverage, towns and cities in Canada located on the Great Lakes will be more susceptible to high waves and flooding from storms this spring. According to Anderson, ice typically protects the shorelines from high tides and flooding.

“In addition, any late-season cold air masses crossing over the warmer and open — meaning no ice cover — may lead to some unusually late, heavy lake-effect snowfall in the typical snow belts,” he said.

While storms will continue to bring wet, unsettled weather to Ontario this spring, the soil may not be able to handle this much water content. According to Anderson, soil moisture, meaning how much water the soil already holds, is high. Any additional storms this spring will only increase the risk of springtime flooding in southern and eastern Ontario.

A few snowstorms and brief bouts of cold weather will be possible through the end of March, but as April gets underway, drier and milder conditions are expected to dominate, Anderson says.

Above-normal water temperatures in the northwest Atlantic will also play a role in the mild pattern for this part of the country. According to Anderson, water temperatures off the East Coast are a few degrees higher than the historical average. This will help to keep air temperatures in populated areas along the coast above normal, especially during the overnight hours.

Temperatures in Halifax, Nova Scotia, have remained relatively mild this winter, with only a handful of days that had temperatures below the historical average. In the spring, temperatures will steadily rise from the upper 30s F (2.2 to 4.4 C) in March to the low 60s F (15.6 to 17.8 C) in May.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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