09/01/2011 10:56 EDT | Updated 11/01/2011 05:12 EDT

Canada Autumn Weather: Warmer, Drier For Most Of The Country


TORONTO - Don't pack away those shorts and sandals just yet — it will be a warmer and drier autumn in most of the country, Environment Canada said in its seasonal forecast Thursday.

That will be good news for farmers who got their crops in late during the cool, wet spring and travellers taking in the fall colours in central Canada, said senior climatologist David Phillips.

"What we've heard about a lot about this summer is the fact the growing season didn't start until much later, that farmers were worried about frost, they needed more time to get the grain and the corn off the fields and the grapes and the fruit harvested," said Phillips.

"Well it looks like Mother Nature is going to give them a break."

Most of Canada will see a September with temperatures a degree or two warmer than normal and it will be drier than usual or near normal, said Phillips.

"We think it's still shirt sleeves and muscle shirts or tank top weather or maybe a little jacket," said Phillips. "But it certainly isn't balaclavas and windbreakers."

Despite the warmer weather, parts of the Prairies often see their first frost of the season in September and this year may be no different, Phillips said.

But most parts of the country will see "room temperature" weather in early fall, he said.

"It's going to be a kinder, gentler fall for most Canadians where we can enjoy having the air conditioner off and the heat not put on," said Phillips.

Models suggest British Columbia, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, parts of the Maritimes and the island of Newfoundland will be colder than normal from September through November. From Saskatchewan to New Brunswick, it will be half a degree to a couple of degrees warmer than normal.

The Prairies and Atlantic Canada will see below normal precipitation while the rest of the country is looking at normal to below normal amounts of rain.

However, Phillips noted an active hurricane season with 11 tropical storms so far, usually the number for an entire season. The warm temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are a "heads-up" for residents in the Maritimes and Quebec, who could be facing more storms, he said.

Meanwhile, there could be a reappearance of the phenomenon known as La Nina, which can bring extreme weather.

The UN weather agency said Thursday the odds are increasing that La Nina conditions — unusually cool ocean surface temperatures — will develop in the central and eastern tropical Pacific before the end of the year.

The World Meteorological Organization's latest forecasts show a 50 per cent probability of La Nina conditions, up from about 25 per cent in its previous forecast. But it would be a weaker La Nina compared to the moderate to strong 2010-2011 episode.

The phenomenon produced a colder and snowier winter for Canada last year.

The previous year, the more moderating phenomenon of El Nino produced a warm winter. Phillips predicts Canadians will see a winter somewhere between those two extremes this year.

The early outlook for this winter calls for colder than normal conditions across the Prairies, B.C., the northwestern part of Canada and the Maritimes but warmer than normal in Ontario, he said.