February 2012 – Winter finally begins

Robin spotted in Moncton, 29 Feb 2012 (TWN)

Some might say winter finally began in Southeast New Brunswick on the first day of February when the largest snowfall of the season to date (32 cm) fell in Greater Moncton.

Snow covered the ground for the entire month of February starting that day – the first consistent snow cover since winter officially began.

Other major snow events on 11-12 February at 29 cm and on 28 February at 12 cm helped add to the monthly snow total.

While snowfall was well ABOVE normal, rainfall was well BELOW normal bringing the average precipitation total to slightly above normal for the month.

Temperatures overall were above normal but some very cold nights were recorded during the first half of the month, bottoming out at -22.2 C on 13 February.

FEBRUARY 2012 ALMANAC

Average HIGH  -1.6 C

Average LOW  -12.0 C

AVERAGE  -6.8 C (1.2 C ABOVE 30-year-average)

Extreme HIGH  7.1 C (on 15 Feb)

Extreme LOW  -22.2 C (on 13 Feb)

Snowfall  101.6 cm  (more than 65% ABOVE 30-year-average)

Rainfall  9.1 mm  (more than 65% BELOW 30-year-average)

(Stats courtesy Environment Canada)

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Storm misses Moncton

When a storm targets the Maritimes, it’s rare that Greater Moncton doesn’t get the brunt of it.

Given our location between the Bay of Fundy and Northumberland Strait/Gulf of St. Lawrence, precipitation picks up moisture from both bodies of water and can dump a lot of snow (in winter) over the region.

But not this time as the latest storm travelled further to the east and dumped most of its snow on eastern Prince Edward Island, eastern mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island.

Some areas received as much as 45 cm of snow from this storm – Moncton received less than 6 cm, most of which has already melted thanks to a strong sun.

Hoar frost!

Hoar frost in Moncton, 17 Feb 2012 (TWN)

For the first time I’ve noticed this winter and for the past two mornings, hoar frost has settled over Greater Moncton – a rather interesting and beautiful sight.

According to its official definition, hoar frost occurs when there is high humidity in the air and the tree limbs (or grass or even the antenna on your vehicle) have a temperature below the dew point.

The water vapor from those surfaces skips the dew process and goes directly to a frozen state.

Fog and temperatures slightly below freezing during the last couple of nights would have created high humidity and produced hoar-frost.

Moncton digs out after wintry wallop

Donald Avenue Moncton, 12 Feb 2012 (Dearing photo)

Precipitation began early yesterday in Greater Moncton as rain (about 3 mm fell) before cold air rushed in, the temperature fell below freezing and the rain changed to ice briefly and then to snow (about 29 cm fell).

Winds were also a factor with gusts up to 60 km/h reported at the Greater Moncton Airport causing blowing and drifting snow.

Snow and ice made roads impassable in some areas with Nova Scotia’s Cobequid Pass closed for hours early Sunday.

Prince Edward Island was hardest hit with ice bringing down power lines and more than 40 cm of snow in Charlottetown.

Closer to the Atlantic coast, precipitation fell mostly as rain (with up to 50 mm reported in Halifax) which later turned to freezing rain and ice pellets making for icy road conditions.

More snow for Rome

Snow in Rome, 11 Feb 2012 (AP photo)

After no big snowfall for 26 years, Rome is being hit by its second snowstorm in a week.

Snow blanketed Rome today and within two hours, at least 5 cm had accumulated.

Rome’s schools had been closed as a precaution and monuments including the Colosseum were shut down again.   

Transport trucks were ordered off national highways, raising fears that food won’t reach stores.

Meantime, the owner of a zoo near Paris reports animals such as giraffes and elephants detest the current cold snap although others such as bears and tigers are happily prowling the grounds including frozen lakes.

Major winter storm has sights on Moncton

Courtesy Accuweather.com

Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning for Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick for this weekend.

A low pressure system is forecast to develop and intensify as it moves northeastward along a trough off Nova Scotia.

Rain is expected to change quickly to flurries and light snow by late Saturday as the low approaches.

Total snowfall amounts of 20 to 30 cm is forecast for the above mentioned regions.

Strong northerly winds will cause blowing snow, especially over open and exposed areas.

Lingering cold in Eastern Europe

Firefighters clear snow Bucharest, Romania, 05 Feb 2012 (Reuters photo)

Frigid temperatures, which have plummeted to -30 C and lower in parts of Eastern Europe including Ukraine, have lead to the deaths of more than 130 people.

The lingering cold spell is the worst in at least six years with many of those who have died being homeless.

Snow lovers are basking in Sarajevo where a record 107 cm has fallen.

Meantime, about 15 cm of snow has fallen in parts of England and temperatures dropped to -10 C with travel disrupted in London.

 A coating of snow was also reported in Paris with more to come in northern France.

Rare snow in Rome

Snow blankets ruins in Rome, 04 Feb 2012 (AP Photo)

Up to 20 cm of snow fell over parts of Rome on Friday and Saturday – a rare sight in the Italian capital which had its last significant accumulation of snow in 1986.

Romans used government-issued shovels to clear sidewalks and kitchen utensils to clear windshields.

Buses and taxis were scarce and officials told tourists to stay away from major sites such as the Colosseum over fears people would slip and fall on the icy ruins.

Snow also fell across the Mediterranean in Algiers (same latitude as Virginia, USA) for the first time in eight years where almost 10 cm of snow fell and temperatures plummeted to -1 C, unusually low for the Algerian capital.

Canada’s groundhogs call for early spring

Shubenacadie Sam poses with NS Natural Resources Minister (Chronicle-Herald photo)

Canada’s best known furry prognosticators, Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam and Ontario’s Wiarton Willie, both emerged from their homes this morning and did not see their shadows.

Legend has it that there will be an early spring.

However, the groundhogs’ American cousin, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow this morning and saw his shadow – meaning six more weeks of winter.

Who will be right?

Biggest snowfall of season so far

Snow removal downtown Moncton, 02 Feb 2012 (S. MacKenzie photo)

The cleanup is underway after the biggest snowstorm of the season made Greater Moncton its target.

Environment Canada says 32 cm of snow has fallen in the region over the past 24 hours.

Moncton public works foreman Kevin Allen says crews are busy plowing and salting today.

This snowfall still pales in comparison to the big Nor’easter of 1992 which began on February 1st and dropped 83 cm of snow on that day alone – 162 cm in total over several days.