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My husband and I 'feel' it will be a cold/snowy winter here on the Island. We've even cut/stacked 6 truckloads of firewood just in case. What's the forecast for 2008/09 winter season, Claire?

Question submitted by Carol Elder
(Nanaimo, B.C.)

Funny how the change of season gets people thinking ahead!

I am very nervous about giving out seasonal forecasts - mainly because day to day weather variances often bear little resemblance to the seasonal forecast. On a very general level, the relative warmth of the Pacific ocean around the equator, often gives us an idea as to whether or not the upcoming season will be warmer or cooler than average.

Every two to seven years off the western coast of South America, ocean currents and winds shift, bringing warm water westward, displacing the nutrient-rich cold water that normally wells up from deep in the ocean. The invasion of warm water disrupts both the marine food chain and the economies of coastal communities that are based on fishing and related industries. Because the phenomenon peaks around the Christmas season, the fishermen who first observed it named it El Niño (“the Christ Child”). In recent decades, scientists have recognized that El Niño is linked with other shifts in global weather patterns.

The equatorial Pacific is presently considered to be "ENSO-neutral" - meaning conditions are neither warm nor cold. Very weak below-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) still exist near the dateline, and weak above-average SSTs are present in the eastern equatorial Pacific. There is a 90 percent probability of ENSO-neutral conditions persisting over the coming season.

So basically - we're looking at a "normal" lead into winter!

Environment Canada also issues seasonal forecasts: check out

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