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December: Another Warm Month

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December statistics confirm that the Maritimes experienced another warm month in December, with temperatures as much as 3 to 6C above normal.  I expect that December 2015 was one of the warmest Decembers on record.

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December 2015 statistics

Meanwhile precipitation was in the normal range, with a couple of late month snowfalls resulting in a White New Years, after another very mild Christmas. In fact, December snowfalls were above normal in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; and parts of Nova Scotia.

This mild trend was consistent with a warm year globally.  The warm sea surface temperatures surrounding the Maritimes, after a warm Autumn, helped keep conditions mild.

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While 2016 will begin under a strong El Nino pattern, only western Canada can count on above normal temperatures with an El Nino.  In th eastern half of the country, temperatures will either be near or slightly below normal for the month of January.

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We are beginning the month on that note… and the weather models all suggest the coolish tendency to continue on average for January.

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Environment Canada January Outlook: red above normal; blue below

In spite of some suggestion, El Nino does not necessarily point to above normal temperatures for the eastern parts of Canada.  Nevertheless,  the El Nino pattern will probably keep us from experiencing the extended periods of cold weather that plagued our winters last year and the year before.

15 day ensemble of 40 models

15 day ensemble of 40 models

The next 5-6 days looks fairly quiet, with temperatures mostly near or below freezing and only weak systems.  There could be a storm in the Sun-Mon times period: models that far out are not in agreement on rain or snow.

All to say, after a warm December, January is starting near or below normal.  I don’t expect to see any extended period of warm or cold weather for the remainder of the winter… which is rather normal.  I can handle normal.

Stay safe and Happy New Year




About Jim Abraham

Jim has spent about 40 years in the weather business. He has been an operational forecaster from Halifax to Whitehorse. Jim started the Canadian Hurricane Centre, and has flown into a couple of these storms. As a senior executive within Environment Canada, Jim has managed weather research, weather services, and weather/water/climate observing programs. Retired from Environment Canada, Jim is the Atlantic Director for the Canadian Climate Forum, the president of the Halifax chapter of the Canadian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society, a partner in Climaction Services, and a part-time meteorologist on CBC radio. He is still participating in national and international activities related to weather preparedness. Having witnessed unprecedented advances in the science and technology of meteorology. Jim hopes that this blog will also be educational; enabling users to better understand weather-related phenomena, better interpret available information, and ultimately better able to make decisions to protect themselves, their family and their property. Jim welcomes any questions and suggestions.


The views and opinions expressed in this content are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of haligonia.ca.


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