Cold autumn no indication of cold winter, says climatologist

This November, Windsor-Essex had 20 of what climatologist Dave Phillips calls ‘freeze’ days.
November afternoons were the coldest ones in the last 68 years. (Cindy Deslippe)

Southwestern Ontario is known for its warm falls, but this year was an exception, according to Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips. 

"You are the warmest falls in Canada," said Phillips. "I think that should be on your bumper stickers. But not this year."

This November, Windsor-Essex had 20 of what Phillips calls "freeze" days. Normally, there'd be about 10. The autumn month also had the coldest November afternoons in 68 years.

"If you go out on the streets in the afternoon in November, temperatures averaged almost 4 and a half degrees colder than normal," said Phillips.

Philips said October was cooler than normal too. 

"We went from almost sweat to slush," said Phillips. "Fall lasted for three minutes I think."

Climatologist Dave Phillips says there’s no connection between a cold fall and a cold winter. (CBC)

On the other hand, September tied the record for the warmest Windsor-Essex September on record. 

Phillips calls fall "free energy time."

"No air conditioning or heating on," said Phillips, adding the seasonal conditions Windsor-Essex could boast about was "missing in action."

"This time last year, you had less than a centimetre of snow that had fallen," said Phillips. "This year, you've had about 15 centimetres."

On Sunday, Windsor's forecast calls for 11 C. According to Phillips, that's warmer than all but two days in November. The normal forecast is about 4 C. 

Luckily, said Phillips, there's no connection between a cold fall and a cold winter.

"I think a lot of people would rejoice in the fact that a cold fall does not give you any clue at all as to the kind of winter you're going to have."

Phillips said the winter forecast is uncertain thanks to a battle between El Nino — a band of warm ocean water — and the Pacific Blob — warm air in the Gulf of Alaska. The Blob sometimes sends a polar vortex toward southwestern Ontario.

Phillips expects, what he calls, a "normal" winter for Ontario as a whole.

For December, that's a daily high of about 2 C. 

With files from Peter Duck


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