October 5, 2012 — Parts of the country have been dealing with wintery conditions this week. Is it a sign of what's to come?
It's only been two weeks since the official start to fall, but parts of the country have been looking and feeling more like winter.
First, temperatures plunged and wet snow fell across BC and Alberta on Tuesday. The ground was still too warm for any significant accumulations, but it was enough to catch some residents off guard.
It was a similar story in Manitoba and northern Ontario after a strong low pressure system that pushed in from the U.S. lead to a sudden change in weather conditions.
"Between 10-25 cm of snow piled up in parts of southern Manitoba on Thursday, while areas in northwestern Ontario saw closer to 30 cm," says Mark Robinson, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
Strong winds that accompanied the snow resulted in downed trees and power outages in several places. Icy conditions and poor visibility were also reported, prompting officials to issue travel advisories throughout the day.
While driving conditions deteriorated quickly, firefighters in southeastern Manitoba say the wet snow came as a relief.
Dry and windy conditions earlier this week helped to spark large wildfires across the region. The fires prompted evacuations and left four homes destroyed, and now crews are hopeful the moisture will assist in containment efforts.
Early snow a sign of what's to come?
Although it's not completely unheard of, large fall snow storms like this are pretty rare.
"Especially with the significant snowfall amounts that we're seeing," says Robinson. "But all that it really takes is a good cold air outbreak. Moisture from the south, colliding with Arctic air from the north results in this slushy, wet snow."
With what seems to be an early start to the winter season, many Canadians are asking, is it a sign of what's to come?
"It's interesting because we had a similar start to the tornado and hurricane seasons as well this year," says Robinson. "Both started off extremely strong, but then basically died off for the second half of the season. Is it a pattern? Maybe, but it's something we'll be watching closely this winter."
For a closer look at what's expected, be sure to check the Alerts section of our website.