Weather predictions for the 2017-2018 snowmobiling season in Western Canada

The Old Farmer’s Almanac - Canadian Edition is out, and here’s the weather prediction for winter 2017-2018

by Kirsten Armleder

“If the Old Farmer’s Almanac says it’s going to be a cold, snowy winter, then we’re upgrading our sleds,” said my husband in a matter-of-fact tone.

With that in mind, it was with some mixed feelings that I opened the 2018 Canadian Edition when it arrived at SnoRiders August 29th.

The General Weather Report and Forecast reads:

Winter 2017-18: “All of Canada should have temperatures that are above normal, on average. Snowfall will be greater than normal in most of Quebec, southeastern Ontario and Yukon, while rainfall will be greater than normal in Atlantic Canada, with near- or below-normal snowfall. Elsewhere, snowfall and precipitation will be below normal.”

So, we’re not getting new sleds . . . unless we’re moving to Quebec, Ontario or Yukon. Before any rash decisions are made, let’s take a look at the regional forecasts.

First, Southern British Columbia:

“Winter will be slightly warmer than normal, with below-normal precipitation and snowfall. The coldest periods will be in early and late December, early and late January, and mid-February, with the snowiest periods in early and late December.”

Hmmm. Still not the news my riding partner and pretty much all backcountry sledders were hoping for.

What about The Prairies?

“Winter temperatures will be milder than normal, with the coldest periods from late November into early December, in mid-December, from late December into early January, and in early February. Precipitation and snowfall will be below normal, with the snowiest periods in mid- to late November and mid-March.”

That being said, there are numerous references to “flurries” and “snow showers” in the breakdown for each month. November and December will actually see below average temperatures on the prairies with the first snowstorm occurring the week of November 24 to 30.

Temperatures for Southern B.C. in November and December will also be one to five degrees (C) cooler than average. According to the Almanac, there will also be several snow showers and periods of heavy rain on the Coast. You know what that means—Whistler, here we come!

Depending on the way you interpret the Almanac’s forecast, you may be regretting that snowchecked sled or feeling bad you didn’t take advantage of pre-season discounts. In other words, how accurate can a forecast made months in advance really be?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac claims it has an 80 per cent accuracy rate and, we have to admit, there have been times when this 226-year-old publication has been spot on. Last winter, for example, the Almanac predicted a colder, snowier than normal winter in southern B.C., and this is what ended up happening:

How does the Almanac go about predicting the weather? Well, it’s a secret that’s kept locked in a box. What we do know is that it is based on solar activity, historical weather patterns and the atmosphere.

Clear as mud? Take the forecast with a grain of salt—or if you’re of the same mind as my throttle-happy husband, with a pail full. Now, 155" or 163"? Decisions, decisions.

Happy sledding, everyone!

More ramblings and the 2018 Winter Outlook from the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac can be found here.

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