The weather forecast model is in for December from Environment and Climate Change Canada. The unfortunate part is that there is no dominant trend to give us any solid information, which means anything goes.

Meteorologist Natalie Hasell says last week is under the influence of a low-pressure system that has been affecting the prairies further west in the earlier part of the week.

Hasell explains there will be really cold temperatures this week. 

"Temperatures have already been falling since Friday morning already. There's a slight warm-up on Sunday and then colder than normal again for several days," continues Hasell. "Looking at the longer term forecast, there are two forecasts that we can use. There is a forecast that is issued every Thursday and it goes for four weeks. I have the one that was issued the 1st of December, and it's valid for December 5th to January 2nd. It is suggesting that this below-normal trend could continue. The signal is not very strong, and it's not everywhere in southern Manitoba, but I think it does apply to Portage."

She notes precipitation in this forecast includes the below-normal or drier conditions are expected to continue, which, Hasell says,  makes sense. 

"Usually, if it's cold in the winter, there's not a whole lot of precipitation going on," continues Hasell. "So, those two things kind of go hand in hand fortunately, perhaps, unfortunately, I guess it depends on your perspective. If we look at the longer-term forecast, we have the three-month forecast that is issued at the end of every month. The latest one was produced on the 30th of November, so it's quite fresh. Unfortunately, for most of Manitoba, there is no dominant trend in the forecast for temperatures and for southern Manitoba, no dominant trend for precipitation."

Hasell says for December, January, and February, unfortunately, there is no forecast for Portage.

"Generally speaking, we do know that we are in La Niña conditions yet again this season," adds Hasell. "When we are in La Niña conditions, so this is talking about ENSO (or the El Niño Southern Oscillation) which is tracking the pressure pattern and the temperatures over the Pacific by the equator. We care about that because it actually changes the weather we see here. The cold phase in the ocean is also the cold phase for our area of the world. Often we see colder-than-normal temperatures in La Niña situations now. The current forecast for La Niña, if I understand correctly, has linear conditions continuing into December, January, February, and maybe even into March."

She says she wouldn't be surprised if this overall period will be below normal.

"There are other oscillations at play and other features at play which, I think, might be why the forecast has no dominant trend for most of Manitoba," says Hasell. "So, it can go either way. Expect some very cold days because they do happen here. Even with global warming, we can expect fewer of these, generally speaking. We will still get them, so if you haven't gotten your snow tires or winter tires on your car, please consider doing so."

Hasell adds lack of a dominant trend happens occasionally, so that means expect a lot of variability with lows and highs in the area.  The bottom line is be ready for anything the season can bring.

"Sometimes, everything comes all at once and sometimes, it's long stretches of the same kind of weather," says Hasell. "Either way, it could be really important for Manitobans in Portage to be ready for this and, to take just that extra bit of time preparing, I think, will make a huge difference. By the time we get to the end of the season, I think it will have allowed people to be much more comfortable and much, much more ready or whatever the season may bring, and whatever else could happen, because it's not just weather-related necessarily, but a lot of the stuff we deal with, of course, is weather-related."