All I Want for Christmas is ‘El Niño’?

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El Niño may bring a milder and warmer winter than previous years

By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter

El Niño, a mass of unusually warm ocean water that is transferred by wind currents, has significantly emerged along the equatorial region of the globe for the first time since 2010. Weather shifts such as these, usually occurring every two to five years, have been known to “rock the boat”—and this time around have brought devastating results to the people of Mexico.

Mexico was recently hit by Hurricane Patricia—a category-five hurricane with wind currents of up to 325 km/h fueled by El Niño’s warm temperature. These numbers broke records held back in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma, which had reached highs of 295 km/h. Storms at such high category ratings ensure maximum catastrophic damage, which Mexicans located in the southwest are still recovering from.

While meteorologists predict horrible droughts in Australia, overwhelming floods in Peru and Ecuador, and a bad monsoon season in scattered parts of Asia, the outlook for Canada doesn’t seem so dire.

David Philipps, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist, shared his insight with CTV’s Canada AM: “It typically doesn’t arrive for us until late fall and winter. Yet unlike the rest of the world, it does create, perhaps for some people, a good news story. If you don’t like your winters tough, El Niño does bring balmier-than-normal weather.” Philipps has been predicting the effects of El Niño on the Canadian winter since back in May. So, what can we expect from the upcoming winter season?

Starting off with Atlantic Canada, there will likely be a significant drop in the number of hurricanes. Precipitation in the form of rain rather than snow is the projected outcome in the coming months for the East.

Meanwhile in Central Canada, if El Niño is strong, the populations of Ontario and Quebec will be able to evade the repeat of a harsh winter. “Ontarians and Quebecers may have to break out the rain boots more often than not,” suggests CBC.

Over in the Prairies, winters are usually dry, so El Niño will have a minimal impact. The results of the system will be more recognizable come spring—there will most likely be fewer floods, a relief for residents remembering the damage done by ones in years past.

The North is expected to mimic minimal impact, contingent on the warmer gusts making their way to the uppermost region. A five-degree difference during the winter is the worst that could occur. There will still be a bounty of ice and a demand for snowmobiles.

On the Pacific Coast, British Columbians will receive the bulk effects of El Niño on Canada. As the closest location to the warm body of water, BC residents might not see snow this year. Yet have no fear, rain somehow always finds its way back to Vancouver.

As El Niño unleashes onto Canada in late fall or early winter, only then will forecasters be able to make more precise predictions. Philipps implied to CBC that there was no need to jump to conclusions: “Would I cancel my winter holiday? No, I wouldn’t.”

Only time will tell. There’s no mistaking that the slopes in Whistler might not have as much snow as hoped, so plan ahead this holiday season and be prepared for a not-so-white Christmas.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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