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A Year without Winter?

February 10, 2010 — Environment Canada says this has been the warmest and driest winter in the country's record books. Here's Senior Climatologist David Phillips with a recap of the season.

While parts of the United States, Europe and Asia have been dealing with heavy amounts of snow and bitterly cold temperatures, it's been the opposite situation here in Canada. It's almost like we're still waiting for winter to arrive.

In fact, Environment Canada is now calling the winter of 2009 / 2010 the country's warmest and driest on record.

Overall, temperatures across Canada were 4 degrees above normal. Environment Canada's David Phillips says, “we've never seen that intensity of warmth in 63 years.”

In addition to being warm, it was also dry. Nationally, there was 22 per cent less rain and snow than normal. In parts of Ontario and the western Prairies, precipitation was down about 60 per cent.

Forecasters agree that one of the main causes of this year's trend is El Nino.

‘El Nino is the warming of the water in the central and eastern Pacific that happens every few years,' says Weather Network meteorologist Chris Scott. 'Why it’s important is because if you warm up a vast stretch of water in the Pacific you’re going to change the air above it.'

It's no secret that this winter has been unusual. Cities like Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal have seen way less snow than normal this year. The flood situation in southern Manitoba could be better this year, thanks to less snow and thinner ice. And in British Columbia, the mountains are seeing record-low snowpack.

Of course, there's also the Winter Games in Vancouver, which saw the effects of El Nino and a mild winter first hand.

For more information on what you can expect in these final weeks of winter, tune into The Weather Network on TV. Our National Forecast comes up at the top and bottom of every hour.

And for a look at what's to come, make sure you check out our 2010 Spring Outlook. You'll find it under the 'Related Links' section of this page.

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