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Here is Ottawa's winter weather outlook

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As Ottawans brace themselves to find out if the canal will reopen this year, El Niño might have other plans.

The Weather Network is predicting El Niño conditions will bring milder temperatures to the Capital leading up to the holiday season, with a wintry pattern possibly developing around the holidays.

"During the weeks leading up to the holidays, we expect near-normal or above-normal temperatures across most of the country," The Weather Network said.

Environment Canada's senior climatologist David Phillips told CTV News Ottawa that he agrees with The Weather Network's assessment.

"We think the character of this winter will be milder than normal," he said. "I think El Niño is going to dominate the weather across the country."

The last El Niño year in Canada was in 2015-2016, which was a milder winter with slightly above normal precipitation.

Less snow is expected in southern Ontario and southern Quebec leading up to the holidays, but The Weather Network says a small deviation in the storm track could mean a more active weather pattern.

"If the storm track ends up being just a little further north than expected at times, then this region would end up seeing a rather active winter pattern," The Weather Network said.

The network predicts a similar story for the rest of the country, particularly western Canada and the Praires which are expected to have a milder and drier than normal winter for much of the season though there could be a few periods of excessive rainfall.

But all hope is not lost for those hoping to skate on the canal this year, as southerly weather systems can bring surprises.

"There's are always tricks up nature's sleeves," Phillips said. 

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