North

Get ready for a cold, snowy winter, Yukon, says Old Farmers' Almanac

Get that shovel ready, because the Old Farmers' Almanac says there's going to be a lot of the white stuff in Yukon this winter.

Annual publication has been forecasting weather for more than 2 centuries

Digging out after a heavy dump of snow in Whitehorse in 2018. The Old Farmers' Almanac says this could be a familiar sight this winter. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

Get ready Yukoners, because this winter is going to be ... very wintry!

That's according to the newest edition of the Old Farmers' Almanac, which predicts a very cold, and very snowy, winter this year across much of northern and western Canada.

"We expect a lot of snow, particularly in the northern part of the Yukon," said Jack Burnett, managing editor of the annual publication.

"Mainly snow and mainly cold."

In the meantime, things won't be so rough in Yukon, Burnett says.

"We see September actually as being slightly warmer than normal. 'Warm' isn't really the word of course — slightly less cold," he said.  

The Old Farmers' Almanac has been predicting long-range weather for more than two centuries. It uses a mathematical and astronomical formula that dates back just as long.

'It's snow time,' in Yukon this winter, says the Old Farmers' Almanac's weather map. (Old Farmers' Almanac)

Burnett says that weather predictions over the years have been accurate about 80 per cent of the time. That figure dropped a bit in recent years, however, forcing the publication to revise its formula.

"We've done a lot of research and we've actually looked into the effect of climate change on our ancient forecasting methods — because we still use the same way that was used in 1792," Burnett said.

"We have made some tweaks to our old ways, some slight tweaks. And so now we're back up around 80 per cent again."

Simple forecasts 'pretty dubious,' says Environment Canada

But Doug Lundquist, a meteorologist with Environment Canada in B.C., is skeptical.

He said any forecast that looks beyond the next few months is "pretty dubious," especially when it comes to precipitation. Temperature trends are a little easier to predict, but there are too many variables when it comes to rain and snowfall.

"The Farmer's Almanac, this is how I think they get away with it — they'll give you a forecast for the territory for a whole winter and they'll say two words: cold and snowy. Well, it's going to get cold and snowy somewhere, but it won't necessarily be everywhere," Lundquist said.

"It's really not realistic, that type of forecast."

Environment Canada does issue its own seasonal forecasts, but those look no more than three months ahead. And Lundquist says the focus is on temperature trends.

September could be a little warmer than normal this year in Yukon, says Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

He says the latest seasonal forecast predicts a warmer-than-normal autumn for most of Canada, except Yukon and the N.W.T. where it could go either way.

There's a chance that September, however, could be a little warmer in Yukon, he says. That's because of a high pressure ridge developing over the eastern Pacific Ocean. 

"If it does take a little more strength into the Yukon, you could see a little bit of summer extending into September. Right now it's only affecting the southern half of B.C.," he said. 

"Summer isn't completely over. We might have a little taste at it, even though the nights are getting longer."

With files from Leonard Linklater

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