When it comes to fall forecasting, the best weather advice is to seize the day

When it comes to forecasting weather for the fall, even the weather experts don’t put much stock in their best efforts.

“It’s always difficult to get the fall forecast right because it’s almost like a tug-of-war,” says David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment & Climate Change Canada. “Summer wants to hold on and winter wants to get a foothold. You don’t get those long bouts of a certain kind of weather.

“The best advice in fall is don’t procrastinate. If you see a couple of good days, well, my sense is it’s a good golf day.”

A good case in point was the hot and sunny weekend temperatures in Edmonton, which gave way Monday to the cool and cloudier first day of fall and are looking ahead to below-freezing temperatures by week’s end, Phillips told CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM on Monday.

Phillips is currently betting on the fall weather being a bit colder and wetter than normal — but then noted that, because meteorologists consider the period from September through November, Edmonton has already had a lovely fall. Especially when compared to last year.

“This time last year, you’d already had 10 days with snow and eight days with frost,” he said.

Meanwhile, making a solid winter forecast this year is also proving to be more challenging than usual because of what Phillips called a lack of clues from routine weather patterns like El Niño or La Niña.

“This year we don’t have those, we have a neutral situation,” he said. “The water is neither warm, nor cold down there in the tropics.”

And historically, a neutral situation could play out to be almost anything. Phillips said he looked at 22 years with similar sea surface temperatures. Of those, seven were colder than normal, nine were warmer than normal “and six were kind of in-between.”

“My sense is [winter] won’t be as long as it was last year,” he said. “There will be moments you’ll wish you’re somewhere else, but I don’t think it will be the winter from hell that the Farmer’s Almanac is saying.”

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