Lethbridge residents can expect the warmer-than-seasonal temperatures to continue over the next few months. According to the latest Temperature and Precipitation Probabilistic Forecasts from Environment Canada, temperatures between the beginning of December 2023 and end of February 2024 will be 50 per cent warmer than normal.
Warning Preparedness Meteorologist for Alberta, Alysa Pederson says Lethbridge saw its 32nd driest fall recorded, and the reason it wasn’t in the top 10 driest years the area has seen is because of the one snow storm the area saw in October before Halloween; it also was the regions 34th warmest fall recorded. She adds that the warm, dry weather will continue heading into December.
Pederson explains we are in what is called an El Niño year, and what that means is the surface temperature of the water off parts of the west coast of South America, in places like Chile, is warmer than normal and changes the airflow that drives different weather systems across North America, with stronger winds pushing systems up north over Alberta, creating what is called an upper ridge situation.
“So it is like a dome of warmer air is sitting over the region [and] it is harder for storm systems to penetrate it. So because of that, there is less chance for that snow to come through and cool the temperatures down,” Pederson says. “So, like we have seen this fall, we will have warmer and dryer because we don’t have as many storm systems that move through. It is not to say that we are not going to have any big snow storms this winter because it is absolutely possible, but it is more of a dryer pattern when we look at El Niño in Alberta.”
She says those hoping for a white Christmas could be disappointed, though it is not entirely out of the cards.
“So given that there is nothing on the ground right now, it would really take one storm to do it because it is a less than 50 per cent chance that you will have a white Christmas.”
Pederson says between 1997 and 2021, Lethbridge had a white Christmas roughly 10 times.