El Nino winter may mean ice storms for southwestern Ontario

This season's El Nino cycle is the second strongest on record, falling just behind the 1997 to 1998 season. Climatologists are predicting a slightly warmer winter, which may mean a season of nasty ice storms.
An El Nino winter will mean marginally warmer temperatures for southwestern Ontario. That means precipitation that would normally fall as snow, could be freezing rain instead. (Radio-Canada)

This season's El Nino cycle is the second strongest on record, and climatologists are predicting that it could bring a slightly warmer winter, but also the potential for nasty ice storms. 

The El Nino season is also partially responsible for current warmer-than-seasonal temperatures, says Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. 

"One of the influences an El Nino tends to have for us in and around southern Ontario in the fall and winter is somewhat milder than normal temperatures," said Coulson.

"That's definitely a trend that we saw toward the end of October, and the first part of this month, and it is a trend that we're expecting to influence our weather in the coming winter months as well."

Coulson said climatologists are expecting this season's El Nino to be the second strongest in recorded history, which goes back to 1950. 

"The only time there was an El Nino that was stronger than the one that we're going through right now was the fall and winter of 1997 to 1998."

In January 1998, Ontario suffered through over a week of freezing rain, creating an ice storm that caused significant power outages in eastern Ontario, southern Quebec and parts of New England. 

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