December 2011 – Rollercoaster ride!

Sunset in Moncton, 28 Dec 2011 (TWN)

You had to hold on tight and go along for a wild weather ride during December in Greater Moncton.

The monthly average was well above normal (3.7 C above normal) but most noteworthy was the frequent, dramatic swings in temperature.

Overnight lows were actually quite cold in the second half of the month (dipping to -19.9 C on Christmas Day) but daytime highs were frequently mild with four days at or above 10.0 C.

In a bizarre swing from 27-29 December, the temperature fell to -10.2 C, then climbed to 10.0 C, then dropped again to -10.3 C. 

Precipitation was near normal overall but snowfall was well below normal for the month.

DECEMBER 2011 ALMANAC

Average HIGH  3.2 C

Average LOW  -6.8 C

AVERAGE  -1.8 C (3.7 degrees above the 30-year average)

Extreme HIGH  13.6 C (on the 5th and 8th)

Extreme LOW  -19.9 C (on the 25th)

Rainfall  93.0 mm (almost 50 percent above normal)

Snowfall  21.2 cm  (almost 70 percent below normal)

Precipitation  112.8 mm (near normal)

new year’s eve ice storm

Skating on icy Moncton streets, 31 Dec 2011 (TWN)

Greater Moncton had to endure several hours of freezing rain and ice pellets on New Year’s Eve before the precipitation changed to rain.

The icy conditions turned streets and sidewalks into skating rinks sending vehicles into ditches and residents tumbling with numerous falls reported.

Environment Canada reports 9.6 mm of rain and freezing precipitation fell yesterday as well as a trace of snow.

Atlantic Canada’s Top 5 Weather Stories of 2011

Snowy North Moncton 13 January 2011

1.  Nasty Nor’easters – A series of powerful Nor’easters impacted the region in January dumping rain, freezing rain and mostly snow and started to bury Greater Moncton for the season.

2.  Blizzard Buries – After six winters living in Greater Moncton, this blizzard on 27 January was one of the worst mainly because of gusty winds (up to 70 km/h) driving the heavy, wet snow (about 30 cm).  Schools closed, RCMP urged drivers off roads and even shopping malls shut down.

3.  Moncton Snowed Under – On 15 and 16 February, 120 cm of snow covered the ground at the Greater Moncton Airport – 1 cm more than the previous record from 1992.  By month end, total winter snowfall accumulation amounted to 327 cm.  Colder-than-normal temperatures and the scarcity of rain were to blame.

4.  Pre-Halloween Spook – A major fall storm on 30 October haunted the Maritimes with high winds, heavy rain and snow.  Winds of 100 km/h caused pounding surf and powerful wind gusts.  The region either got soaked or buried, with 60 mm of rain in Nova Scotia and 20 cm of snow in parts of western and northern New Brunswick.

5.  First Big Wintry Storm – The first significant snowfall of the season on 23 November proved to be record-breaking with the Greater Moncton Airport recording about 25 cm of snow beating the old record of 22 cm from 23 November 1965.  More impressive snow totals were found in Nova Scotia – Halifax Airport 34 cm, Greenwood 37 cm and Sydney Airport 40 cm.

Record highs set in NB

Rainbow over Moncton, 28 Dec 2011 (TWN)

At least six communities set record highs in New Brunswick yesterday when a mild air mass brought rain and strong winds to the province.

Point Lepreau hit 10.9 C while the Saint John Airport hit 10.8 C which broke the record from 1982 of 9.2 C.

Greater Moncton Airport reached a high of 10.0 C which was shy of the 1982 record of 13.2 C.

Meantime, gusty winds up to 76 km/h in Moncton resulted in garbage cans and post Christmas refuse being tossed around on city streets.

White Christmas 2011

25 Dec 2011 (courtesy NOAA)

After weeks of green and little snow in December, Greater Moncton managed to have a White Christmas afterall.

From Friday 23 December to Saturday 24 December, about 12 cm of snow fell over the region.

Since temperatures were especially cold due to an Arctic high pressure system which moved in afterward (dipping to -19.9 C), the snow had no chance of melting.

As per the map above, much of Canada had a White Christmas with the exceptions being Southern Ontario, southern Prairies and the West Coast.

However, Environment Canada is forecasting plenty of rain and mild temperatures for mid-week in Greater Moncton which means the snow may not stick around for New Year’s.

Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories of 2011

Flooding in the Prairies (Lyndon Tucker photo)

Environment Canada has released its annual list of top ten weather stories of the year:

1.  Prairie flooding – Historic spring floods in Manitoba and Saskatchewan turn into historic summer floods.

2.  Alberta burning – Forest fires destroy one-third of the town of Slave Lake, Alberta in May.

3.  Richelieu flooding – Quebec’s Richelieu Valley floods after heavy snowpack melts in Northeastern U.S.

4.  Farming challenges – From coast to coast, wet fields cause problems throughout the growing season.

5.  Ontario twisters – An F3 tornado (with winds up to 320 km/h) ravages SW town of Goderich.

6.  Busy Atlantic hurricanes – Irene, Katia, Maria and Ophelia did the most damage of the season in Atlantic Canada.

7.  Bummer Summer – Either too hot in Central Canada or too wet and cool on both the East and West Coasts.

8.  Arctic ice shrinking – Sea ice in the Arctic reaches an all-time minimum in September since records began 50 years ago.

9.  Groundhog Day Storm – Blizzard shuts down travel for days in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

10.  Windy Alberta – Strong winds in November (peak gust of 204 km/h) blow trucks off highways and shatter office towers in Calgary.

Blizzard batters U.S. Great Plains

Snow clearing in Amarillo, TX, USA, 20 Dec 2011 (AP photo)

A deadly storm is barreling through the U.S. Great Plains dropping more that 30 cm of snow in some areas and leaving snow drifts several metres high.

Travel was treacherous in New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas today.

More than seven deaths are being blamed on the blizzard just days before the official start of winter.

The storm is now heading east toward the Great Lakes.

Coldest since last winter

Country Meadows Golf Course near Moncton, 18 Dec 2011 (TWN)

Greater Moncton woke up this morning to the coldest temperature since early March when the thermometer dipped to -14 C.

However, it was still a long way from the record low for the date at -25.6 C, set in 1971.

Temperatures dipped even lower in northern New Brunswick this morning where both Edmundston and Charlo fell to a frigid -23.9 C.

Environment Canada predicts a see-saw type week with a warm up tonight, another cool down tomorrow and a further warm up by Thursday.

White Christmas less likely

Snow and ice cover, 17 Dec 2011 (courtesy NOAA)

A white Christmas is less likely in Canada now compared to almost 50 years ago.

Environment Canada compared average snow on the ground Dec. 25 for two periods: from 1964 to 1982 (then), and from 1991 to 2009 (now).

Vancouver: 21 per cent then, 11 per cent now

Yellowknife: 100 per cent then, 100 per cent now

Calgary: 74 per cent then, 47 per cent now

Regina: 95 per cent then, 89 per cent now

Winnipeg: 100 per cent then, 95 per cent now

Toronto (Greater Toronto Area): 63 per cent then, 42 per cent now

Ottawa: 79 per cent then, 79 per cent now

Montreal: 79 per cent then, 68 per cent now

Saint John: 65 per cent then, 41 per cent now

Fredericton: 84 per cent then, 58 per cent now

Moncton: 84 per cent then, 63 per cent now

Charlottetown: 95 per cent then, 63 per cent now

Halifax: 63 per cent then, 47 per cent now

St. John’s: 53 per cent then, 63 per cent now