Expect above-average summer temperatures, Canada's environmental agency warns

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) released its summer seasonal outlook on Tuesday. The agency is forecasting warmer-than-average temperatures across most of the country, with more uncertainty when it comes to precipitation. (CBC/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) released its summer seasonal outlook on Tuesday. The agency is forecasting warmer-than-average temperatures across most of the country, with more uncertainty when it comes to precipitation. (CBC/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Canadians, get ready for another summer of above-average temperatures.

That's the message from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), delivered Tuesday in its summer seasonal forecast.

In a news conference Tuesday, Jennifer Smith, a national warning preparedness meteorologist with ECCC, said that most of the country can expect above-average temperatures this summer.

"There is a high probability of above-normal average temperatures for the summer season," she said. "It's important to note that this … does not indicate by how much temperatures are expected to be above normal, nor by how continuous those temperatures may be."

She also noted that we can expect the normal ups and downs of summer.

"Daily weather will vary," she said. "Expect heat waves, cool spells and all the fluctuations that summer weather brings."

This map illustrates the summer forecast provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The areas in red show the largest probabilities that temperatures will be above normal, while the areas in blue and purple show the probabilities that temperatures will be near- or below-normal.
This map illustrates the summer forecast provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The areas in red show the largest probabilities that temperatures will be above normal, while the areas in blue and purple show the probabilities that temperatures will be near- or below-normal.

This map illustrates the summer forecast provided by ECCC. The areas in red show the largest probabilities that temperatures will be above normal, while the areas in blue and purple show the probabilities that temperatures will be near- or below-normal. (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Most of the above-average temperatures will occur in the North, down into northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and then extend into southern Ontario and eastward toward Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

The only part of the country that is forecast to be near-normal or below average was coastal British Columbia.

"It doesn't mean that those parts of Canada won't experience warm spells, but when evaluating the season on a whole, the net temperature might not be above what is climatologically normal," Smith said.

No 'clear signal' for precipitation 

When it comes to rain, however, the forecast is a little bit murkier.

While there were some March storms that brought precipitation to parts of the central and eastern Prairies, as well as Ontario and Quebec, and extending into Labrador, Smith said it wasn't enough to "alleviate the long-term deficit" experienced across the country.

As well, parts of northern B.C., northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories have experienced "well below" seasonal precipitation "continuously from season to season," according to Smith.

This map illustrates the probabilities of below, normal and above-normal precipitation probabilities across the country. Environment and Climate Change Canada said that while the green areas illustrate the probability of increased precipitation and the brown illustrates below-normal probabilities, there was no clear outlook for the summer season.
This map illustrates the probabilities of below, normal and above-normal precipitation probabilities across the country. Environment and Climate Change Canada said that while the green areas illustrate the probability of increased precipitation and the brown illustrates below-normal probabilities, there was no clear outlook for the summer season.

This map illustrates the probabilities of below, normal and above-normal precipitation probabilities across the country. ECCC said that while the green areas illustrate the probability of increased precipitation and the brown illustrates below-normal probabilities, there was no clear outlook for the summer season. (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

There are some areas of above-normal precipitation forecast in parts of coastal B.C., while parts of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as parts of Northern Ontario and Nova Scotia are forecast to have below-average precipitation.

As for the rest of the country: "There's really not a clear signal for the summer season in terms of precipitation," Smith said. "Canadians need to be ready for a warmer summer that could be met with drier conditions across the country."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nathan Gillett, a research scientist with ECCC, said during the news conference that one of the contributors for ongoing above-average warming has been human-induced climate change, which has caused economic losses, environmental damages and deaths.

New weather products for Canadians

ECCC also announced a few new additions to its services. First, the agency is updating the air quality health index (AQHI) — which runs on a scale of one to 10 — and including an air quality advisory that will be issued when the AQHI is expected to be 10 or higher due to wildfire smoke. This occurred on several occasions during last year's record wildfire season across the country.

And on the heels of last year's wildfire season, ECCC is providing a daily smoke forecast map at weather.gc.ca/firework.

ECCC said it will also be rolling out rapid event attributions. These attributions have been done by others, most notably World Weather Attribution, which looks at global severe weather events, such as drought, floods and heat waves, and attempts to determine how human-caused climate change did or did not play a role in exacerbating the events.

ECCC will attempt to do the same for Canadian events, with a possible turnaround of seven days following the event.

As an example, ECCC highlighted the May 2023 heat wave in Alberta and concluded that it was much more likely due to human influence on the climate.

As El Niño peaked at the end of 2023, last year was the hottest year on record for the globe with July coming in as the hottest month on record. Canada also experienced its hottest summer on record last year. Typically, the year following an El Niño is record-breaking.