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Saskatchewan’s winter was supposed to be colder and snowier. What happened?

Global News logo Global News 2021-01-12 Anna McMillan
a person is cross country skiing on a snow covered slope: Mild winter weather has made it easier to get outside. A Saskatoon counsellor says that's good news for people's mental health. © Nathaniel Dove / Global News Mild winter weather has made it easier to get outside. A Saskatoon counsellor says that's good news for people's mental health.

Saskatchewanians take pride in soldiering through months of bone-chilling temperatures, but so far, this winter has been pretty wimpy.

Meteorologists anticipated a colder and snowier winter than usual, with La Niña to blame.

La Niña happens every few years when wind changes in the southeastern Pacific Ocean cause warmer waters to surface off the coast of Peru, said Global News meteorologist Peter Quinlan.

Read more: 2020-2021 winter forecast: Here’s what weather Canadians can expect coast to coast to coast

“When that takes place, we usually see colder than normal temperatures,” Quinlan said. “Oftentimes, we see a number of systems trekking through that bring in snowier than normal conditions.”

While current conditions aren’t exactly tropical, Quinlan said they’re above average for December and January.

Daytime highs in December and January normally hover around -10 C, plunging below -20 C overnight. So far this winter, daytime highs have been around -5 C to 0 C, and lows rarely dipped to -20 C.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted a “snow train” of storms, but other than a major dump in November, that hasn’t happened yet. Quinlan said the train is still chugging along — it’s likely just delayed.

“We’re going to see (La Niña) ramp up over the next little while. It’s... just taken a little bit of a slower approach,” he said.

“It does look like in the last week of January, we’re going to really start to see temperatures cool off across Saskatchewan.”

Cooler and blustery conditions will arrive on Wednesday, but Quinlan said it won’t be the turning point for the mild winter.

Read more: Blustery Wednesday forecast for southern Saskatchewan

He anticipates wind gusts up to 100 km/h and nearly 20 cm of snow in some areas. Once the system moves through Saskatchewan by late Thursday, temperatures will warm back up.

“We’re actually going to eventually get into a rebound back up toward the freezing mark into next week,” he said.

“It’s not until the last week of January that we’re going to see those temperatures really plunge.”

Quinlan predicts cooler conditions than normal for the second half of winter and first half of spring.

“It could be one of those winters that kind of lingers into spring,” he said.

'Nowhere to go and nothing to do'

Saskatoon counsellor Marcie Dupuis is encouraging people to get outside before temperatures plummet.

“People are feeling like they have nowhere to go and nothing to do, and either places are closed or you don’t feel safe going there,” Dupuis told Global News.

“(Going outside) allows you to not feel so claustrophobic.”

Fresh air can help reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, Dupuis said.

“When that gets reduced, we actually have better ability to regulate our emotions,” she said.

Once conditions get cooler, Dupuis said people should take regular breaks to walk around and get a few minutes of fresh air.

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