When the Farmer’s Almanac released its 2018 winter forecast for Ontario and the rest of Canada, it sent shivers down our spines. The 200-year-old periodical predicted a “teeth-chatteringly cold winter” for most of Canada, with the lowest temperatures afflicting the Prairies, Quebec, and our home province of Ontario.
But the story doesn’t end there. On September 1st, Environment Canada released its own extended winter forecast, which paints a different picture of winter in the Greater Toronto Area.
Since our team is on-call 24/7 for furnace repair in Toronto and the GTA, we’re always paying close attention to the weather. To that end, we want to take a closer look at these opposing predictions to understand what’s really in store for Ontario’s 2018 winter forecast.
What Climatologists Say About the 2018 Fall and Winter Forecast
Per Senior Climatologist Dave Phillips, Canadians can expect a “milder than normal” fall and winter this year.
He predicts the transition from summer to fall will be a gentle one, with warmer-than-usual temperatures across the country. This is already evident here in the Greater Toronto Area, with record-high temperatures hanging over the first week of school.
Around the Great Lakes (including the GTA) the warm weather will likely be punctuated by plenty of rain and thunderstorms. Our region has already seen a severe thunderstorm watch this week.
Brett Anderson, a Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather, adds that the widespread fall warmth might delay the peak fall foliage season by a week or two.
Regardless, the weather should leave plenty of time for Toronto homeowners to get their homes ready for winter. Environment Canada’s Dave Phillips agrees: “This fall, Canadians shouldn’t be thinking about migrating or hibernating,” he said in an interview with CTV, “Canadians should be outside enjoying the mild fall weather instead.”
As for winter? In contrast to the Farmer’s Almanac warning of teeth-chattering cold, Environment Canada’s long-range forecast calls for an unusually warm winter thanks to the influence of El Niño.
El Niño, a warming in the Pacific Ocean, typically results in higher temperatures and greater precipitation in the Greater Toronto Area. The last two El Niño winters occurred in 2016 and 2010, two of the warmest winters in Canadian history.
To summarize Environment Canada’s 2018 fall and winter forecast for Ontario:
- There will be a gradual transition from summer, with milder temperatures lasting well into fall.
- Toronto and the GTA can expect plenty of fall rain and thunderstorms.
- The influence of El Niño will likely make for a milder-than-normal winter.
Why the Difference?
It’s not unusual for the Farmer’s Almanac and government climatologists to come to vastly different conclusions about the forecast.
Environment Canada’s method centres on analysing water temperatures in Canada and around the world, using what we know about patterns like El Niño to anticipate how global trends will impact Canada in the coming months.
The Farmer’s Almanac, on the other hand, keeps their methodology secret, but says it combines “sunspot activity, tidal action of the Moon, the position of the planets, and a variety of other factors.”
Long-range weather forecasts are never an exact science. However, we know Environment Canada uses recognized models that incorporate mathematics and climate science. Besides, we couldn’t blame you for hoping for a gentler winter after last year’s frigid temperatures.
Don’t Wait Until Winter for Furnace Maintenance
With a potentially warm fall on the horizon, you may be tempted to postpone this year’s furnace maintenance appointment a while.
But just because it’s not cold yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare.
Late summer/ early fall is a great time of year to close your air conditioner and get your furnace ready for the winter. With the back-to-school hustle behind us and the holidays months away, there’s finally time to deal with these essential but often-overlooked home maintenance tasks.