Canadians may have to wait longer for the full, frigid effects of winter this year but chilly weather is still on its way, an Environment Canada climatologist has warned.

"We've never cancelled winter in this country. We're not going to do it this year," David Phillips told CTV News Channel on Thursday.

When winter finally blankets Canada, Phillips said colder-than-usual weather is expected courtesy of a natural phenomenon known as "La Nina."

Known as the opposite of El Ninos, La Nina is characterized by chillier sea surface temperatures in the Pacific. Phillips said those conditions will result in an extra-heavy dose of winter snow for Canada.

"There's a choreography that exists between what the ocean temperatures are like and the air above it," Phillips told "Ultimately, La Nina tends to force Arctic air down deeper into the heart of North America."

The UN's weather agency confirmed Thursday that global La Nina conditions re-emerged in August and will likely hold steady until the end of 2011.

"If you look at the middle of winter, almost 80 per cent of the country looks like it's going to be cooler than normal from Vancouver to Labrador," said Phillips referring to his long-term forecast models.

Phillips said that in Canada winter typically arrives in northern and western areas before it hits eastern provinces.

"The east will perhaps see a little tamer kind of a winter," he said. "But hey, their time will come; there'll be moments when they wish they were somewhere else."

Prairie provinces are already under the blustery grip of a cold air mass right now, said Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson.

"Temperatures are falling to about – 13 C right now. Normally it'd be about – 2 for the daytime highs at this time of year," he said.

While Coulson acknowledges that winter will be a bit late to arrive this year, he agrees with Phillips in saying that it shouldn't be underestimated.

"We should be a bit cautious in calling it a mild winter because it definitely won't preclude us from getting those cold snaps," he said. "Weather is what we experience day-to-day."

Coulson advises Canadians to get ready for winter by:

  • Installing snow tires on vehicles

  • Assessing your home for drafts, cracks

  • Preparing a car/home emergency kit

  • Ensuring winter clothing is ready to go