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Where did winter go?

March 31, 2010 — It was a snow free month of March in Toronto. Not even a trace brushed the ground in the city.

First, no snow in Toronto for the entire month of March. And now summer-like conditions for the Easter long weekend.

It's safe to say, this hasn't been a typical year weather wise.

“I've never seen a year like this! This is the year winter was cancelled in Canada,” says Environment Canada's David Phillips.

According to Phillips this is the first time not even a trace of snow fell in Toronto since record keeping began back in 1845. Only 52.4 centimetres was recorded in the city for the entire winter season.

And Torontonians weren't the only ones collecting dust on their shovels this month.

Ottawa, Sudbury, London, Barrie and the Muskoka region in Ontario were also all without any snow in March. A huge change considering the capital city usually gets around 40 centimetres in March. Calgary and Halifax both had the second-lowest snowfall total in over 125 years as well.

Forecasters are blaming this lack of a winter on the weather phenomenon El Nino.

“This was a very moderate to intense El Nino so we knew it was going to have a flavour of that, but certainly not in the proportions that it has,” explains Phillips.

An El Nino year is characterized by slightly warmer ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific that cause a shift in the global weather patterns. In this case, the jet stream kept the storms mostly south of the border.

Now climatologists are looking ahead to what this could mean for the future seasons.

Forest fires, droughts, low water levels and more bugs are all on the list of things to look out for after the low amounts of snow and mild temperatures. Phillips says, we won't be able to understand the total impact from this unusual winter though until the spring and summer months fully kick in.

For the latest details on the weather in your area tune into The Weather Network on TV. Your Regional and National Forecasts come up at the top and bottom of each hour.

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