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'Slow start to spring,' says Weather Network

'Slow start to spring,' says Weather NetworkA stranded traveller crosses a parking lot in Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island on Feb. 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

TORONTO - Canadians with a hankering for warmer weather need to brace for a "slow start to spring."

The Weather Network's spring outlook — which forecasts general trends for March, April and May — is warning residents across the country that winter is expected to hang on in many communities for a few weeks yet.

"March at least, is going to be a tough month," chief meteorologist Chris Scott told The Canadian Press.

"We don't really get into the more consistently nice spring weather until the middle of April. The good news is we're close, we're not far away."

Scott said much of Canada has experienced "a brutal winter" and warned that cold and occasionally snowy weather is likely to persist, although it's expected to be tempered by "some shots of warmer weather."

The Maritimes and Newfoundland can expect "near normal" temperatures in spring, although New Brunswick and much of P.E.I. are being warned to prepare for above normal precipitation.

Further west, the first half of March is expected to bring "below normal" temperatures from Saskatchewan through to Quebec.

"The same areas that have been seeing the worst of the winter weather will see what I would call a lingering headache," Scott said. "The third and fourth week of March will see more signs of warmer weather, albeit fleeting."

Much of Alberta and parts of British Columbia, which are being gripped by cold weather, will continue to see chilly temperatures for the start of March but are expected to warm up sooner than central and eastern parts of the country, said Scott.

Those living along the southern coast of British Columbia are in for the fastest transition — below normal temperatures are expected to rise back towards more typical levels in Victoria, Nanaimo and the lower Mainland in the first part of March.

Meanwhile, near normal spring temperatures are forecast for the Yukon and the western part of the Northwest Territories while below normal temperatures are expected in eastern N.W.T and Nunavut.

A "dip" in the jet stream above Canada is the reason for the country's winter hangover, said Scott, who noted that despite the sluggish start to the season, spring would nonetheless arrive eventually.

"The days get longer, you can't hold that back and you can't hold back the high sun angle. Those two things combined always win out, regardless of how rotten the winter's been," he said.

"When spring comes it's going to feel really nice."

Those anxiously waiting for piles of snow in their backyard to melt, however, will have to be patient.

"We're thinking we'll hold the snow cover for most places that already have snow on the ground for at least a few weeks yet," said Scott.

But, he added, the tough winter doesn't mean it will necessarily be a disappointing late spring or summer.

"People don't have to worry that oh my gosh we're not going to have any warm weather," he said. "We will break the back of this."

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