La Nina conditions could bring a warm, dry winter to Arizona and colder, snowy weather in Canada and the northern U.S.
Sources as varied as the Climate Prediction Center, La Niña forecasts and the “Canadian Farmers’ Almanac” are calling for conditions that could lead us to see larger-than-normal flocks of snowbirds this winter.
The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook calls for a warm, dry winter for the Southwest, including the Phoenix area. Meanwhile, the Canadian version of the “Farmers’ Almanac” predicts a cold winter in most of that country. Environment Canada, that country’s version of the National Weather Service, is not as certain for a colder-than-normal winter.
So chances are that plenty of folks in Alberta and Manitoba, not to mention Minnesota and North Dakota (the CPC is calling for colder than average temperatures in the upper Midwest), plan on heading this way once the snow starts flying.
R. Glenn Williamson, CEO and founder of the Canada Arizona Business Council, wants those people to know they can expect a warm welcome here. The CABC works to strengthen trade and tourism ties between Canada and Arizona.
Williamson, who is from Montreal, said he recently was in Canada as part of a trade mission with Arizona officials. He said he already noticed a chill in the air.
“It was getting cold and that reminds me of why I live here,” Williamson said. “Everybody is bracing for a brutal winter in Canada.”
Williamson said the number of Canadians coming to the state could reach 1.3 million over the next three years. While Arizona has traditionally appealed to winter visitors from western provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, people in eastern provinces such as Ontario and Quebec are starting to give Arizona a look as an alternative to Florida.
“A lot of Montreal folks will go to Florida but they will tell you the hurricanes and the viruses have got them nervous,” Williamson said. “But they’re not staying home where it’s cold. They are truly shifting their patterns.”
Part of the reason behind the attractive weather expected in the southern tier of the United States is the phenomenon known as La Niña. La Niña is the result of cooler than normal water in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. It’s the opposite of the more well-known phenomenon, El Niño, and often results in warmer, drier conditions in the southern U.S.
Last year that same water exhibited extremely strong El Niño conditions, even though those didn’t deliver the wet winter the Southwest was hoping for.
“It was a strong El Niño and it did have the impact you’d typically expect in other parts of the world,” National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Iñiguez said. “But Arizona and Southern California, for whatever reason, were the small part of the globe where it didn’t pan out like you’d expect.”
Iniguez said last winter’s El Niño forecast points out the difficulty in producing a spot-on outlook for an entire season.
“What they’re forecasting is the average temperature for a three-month period,” Iñiguez said. “We could be above average for the entire winter, but have some horrible cold snap where it’s 25 degrees at the airport. But it’s masked out because we’re looking at a broader window. But odds are definitely tilted toward an overall mild winter.”
Even an average winter here is better than what our friends up north can expect. So keep an eye out for those snowbirds.
“It’s going to be a tough winter, which means it’s going to get colder quicker,” Williamson said. “I think their decisions to come to a warmer climate are going to be made earlier than maybe they might have been.”