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Warm November signals what’s in store for Edmontonians this winter

It’s a bit of an unusual November for Edmonton, and, much of Alberta in fact.

Some folks are still working on their golf swing, while others are eagerly waiting to hit the local slopes.

So far this month, temperatures have been running above average and there’s a good chance that will continue because Environment and Climate Change Canada is forecasting an El Niño for Western Canada this winter.

“What that means for Western Canada is that we tend to be warmer than average and drier than average with winter being December, January and February,” meteorologist Terri Lang said.

El Niño is a natural climate phenomenon that occurs every three to five years in which the surface waters of the central and eastern Pacific become unusually warm, causing changes in weather patterns around the world.

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“When we look at the temperatures, it’s been running above average. When you look at the 30-year averages we’re running above that but we’re nowhere in record territory,” Lang added.

“Records for this area run in the mid-teens, we know that that’s happened in the past, so the reason we’re getting the warm air is because the flow in the upper atmosphere is more southwesterly – we know that’s a chinook flow.”

Staff at Snow Valley Ski Club in south Edmonton are just hoping for a cooler day so they can continue making snow.

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“We’ve been able to make about a third of the snow we need,” communications manager Tim Dea said. “There’s been one or two days that we’ve been able to make a bit of snow but the volume has not been great.

“Tonight we’re supposed to go down to -5 or 7. C. There’s the potential but next week will be the indicator of how much snow we can make.”

There have only been a couple of days so far in November during which the resort has been able to start making snow. Snow Valley hopes to open for the season next week.

Some of the larger Mountain resorts in Banff, like Sunshine Village Ski Resort and Lake Louise, have already opened. Marmot Basin in Jasper plans to open next week.

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“We are not getting into really any cold air at all in the next seven to 10 days,” Lang added. “As I look at the weather systems, there is one that looks like it wants to move through northern Alberta but it doesn’t look like there will be much getting into central Alberta any time soon.”

Jamie Livingstone, out walking her dog in Edmonton’s Terwillegar Park, said that “it’s Alberta: sometimes you get crazy weather and sometimes you get nice weather.”

“We’re just enjoying it,” she said.

The last three winters in Alberta were described as La Niña, which usually means cooler weather with more snow.

“That’s the forecast but it doesn’t mean it’s not going to get cold, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to snow. Maybe we will see more precipitation in the form of rain or freezing rain because it’s warmer,” Lang said.

“You have to be prepared for anything.”

Click to play video: 'El Nino not a major cause of recent wildfires, heat waves: meteorologist'

El Nino not a major cause of recent wildfires, heat waves: meteorologist

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