Big snow year coming? If you’re jonesing for more of last winter’s record snow fix in Banff, get ready: Weather forecasters say the enduring La Niña effect could deliver yet another season of relentless, deep powder to Sunshine Village. Some experts predict this season will bring the same cold temperatures and, more importantly, lots of the white stuff to the ski and snowboard resort in Banff National Park. “Last year gave us absolutely incredible conditions,” said John Scurfield, Sunshine Village’s Vice-President of Marketing. “And this year promises more of the same.” UK-based weather forecaster James Madden of Exacta Weather has recently compiled a long-range weather forecast for the U.S. and Canada. His long-term forecasts have gained authority recently, having proven more accurate than those of the Met (meteorological office) in the UK. Madden’s forecasts are based on several natural factors including solar activity, ocean behaviour and atmospheric circulation. “I indicated back in January, as did our USA update in June, that La Niña conditions would not completely disappear,” said Madden. “I fully expect many parts of the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada to experience a particularly harsh winter this year with copious amounts of snow.” An Environment Canada authority agrees La Niña’s hand may still be felt. David Phillips, Environment Canada climatologist and all-round weather guru, predicted normal winter conditions until the end of 2011. Looking into early 2012, however, “the atmospheric response to the water temperatures is showing a La Niña look, which would mean this winter will be more like last winter than two years ago,” Phillips said. “What the models are showing across the West is colder than normal situations to wetter than normal conditions. The season may be earlier coming on; you’ll get snow sooner rather than rain.” While it is impossible to guarantee any trend, said Phillips, early models indicate more cold and more precipitation. So, does the La Niña effect guarantee a cold, wet year? “If you and I invested everything we have, it would be a pretty safe bet,” he said. Phillips said temperatures have increased about 3 degrees C in the past 60-63 years, but that climate change may not harm the prairies. “On the prairies in the years to come, we may see more snow. If conditions warm up, you might get more southerly and Pacific air; this may translate into more snow.” That news couldn’t be better for ski and board bums. With opening day at Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort slated for Nov. 10 (weather permitting), enthusiasts have some serious powder to fantasize about. “It’s so Canadian to worry about winter about before summer is even over,” Phillips quipped.