A colder than normal winter has failed to materialize as predicted for Red Deer — but the season isn’t over.
Alysa Pederson, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the moderate to strong La Niña, created when equatorial waters are cooler off the west coast of South America and Central America, should have brought cold weather to Alberta.
“Right now we’re not sure really what the big scale weather pattern is that’s causing us to not really follow what we would anticipate with La Niña,” Pederson said.
“The last couple of times we had La Niña, we’ve had long, cold spells. We’ve lucked out so far with December and January. Right now we’re set up in a way that we’re just going to be constantly in this warm pattern. If it flips on us, it could flip for the worst.”
Pederson said she would bet on a really cold February.
January is typically the coldest month for Red Deer with a mean temperature of -11.6 C, which is the average of overnight lows and daytime highs.
In January 2020, Red Deerians suffered through a vicious cold snap along with the rest of the province. On Jan. 15, the city set a new morning low record at -43.2 C.
“The old record was -40.6 set in 1950. There was a ton of records that day in a lot of the province.”
She said the forecast for the first 15 days of this month calls for above normal temperatures, but that doesn’t mean above zero. The normal is about -7 C and dips to -10 C by mid-month.
“It is a little bit more uncertain as we go past Jan. 15. But some of our even longer range models, out to the end of the month to Feb. 1, are still showing the probability as being pretty significantly above normal.”
She said 2020 was generally a normal weather year for Red Deer, but the severe hail storm that pummelled parts of Calgary on June 13 was also felt in the Red Deer area.
“All of those storms that hit Calgary actually moved northwards just to the east of Red Deer. With that, Red Deer had 7,033 lightning flashes, cloud to ground and in-cloud lightning, within 50 km of the city.”
She said every few years an extraordinary number of lightning strikes will occur. In 2018, there were 6,400 in one day, while 2019 had a day with 3,000.
Pederson said spring was wetter than usual, and November and December received about half the normal precipitation.