01/09/2012 12:51 EST | Updated 03/10/2012 05:12 EST

Canada basks in balmy temperatures

Much of the country is continuing to enjoy a six-week stretch of mild winter weather despite earlier predictions that Canada was headed for the deep-freeze.

From Calgary to Toronto, temperatures have been five to seven degrees above normal since early December, CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe reported Monday.

Several cities came close to breaking records last month, including Saskatoon, which had its second warmest December on record, and Toronto, where it was the fifth warmest.

“And dozens and dozens of daily records have been broken,” Wagstaffe said.

Drought worries

It has also been an unusually dry winter across the Prairies, which has started to make farmers and ranchers worry about a spring drought.

Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg normally see 20 to 30 centimetres of snow in December. But only five to 10 centimetres fell in those cities last month. Calgary has not had any snow since Dec. 21.

Livestock producers are hoping for a significant amount of precipitation over the next couple of months in order for pastures to recover, said Trevor Hadwen, an agroclimate specialist with Agriculture Canada. But in flood-weary Manitoba the lack of snow could mean a less stressful spring.

A lot of snow would have to fall in the next three weeks to reach normal levels for January.

Calgary averages 17 centimetres in the first month of the year, while Regina normall receives 20 centimetres and Toronto — which has only had a trace of snow so far in 2012 — usually gets 31 centimetres.

A dose of more wintry weather is in the forecast. Both Calgary and Toronto can expect a bit of a cold snap in the next few days, Wagstaffe said .

Last month Environment Canada predicted British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, parts of Northern Ontario and Labrador would see below seasonal temperatures through December, January and February.

And in October the U.S. weather forecasting company Accuweather predicted the La Nina weather pattern would bring a cold winter for British Columbia and Alberta.