Groundhogs send mixed messages

Shubenacadie Sam sees his shadow, Shubenacadie, NS, 02 Feb 2020 (Twitter)

The first marmot in North America to make a weather prediction on Groundhog Day was Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam who saw his shadow early today which means another six weeks of winter.

However, Ontario’s Wiarton Willie and Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see their respective shadows hence an early spring is expected.

So which groundhog do we believe?

The annual tradition originated in Germany and traces its roots to religion rather than science.

Environment Canada notes how data over the last 30 to 40 years shows that the groundhogs have only been correct about 37 percent of the time.

But admittedly, it’s a fun way to mark the midpoint of winter whether or not it wraps up early or drags on into spring.

Year in Review 2019

YQM 2019
Most major centres across Southern Canada were slightly colder than normal in 2019 with only the Arctic region posting above average values.

Greater Moncton was no exception at 0.1 degree below normal which was in contrast to 2018 which was 0.4 degrees above normal.

Based on the thirty year period from 1981-2010, Moncton had more hot days and fewer frigid days in 2019 but other categories were close to average.

Rainfall was above normal for Southeast New Brunswick while less snowfall was recorded for the year.

Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2019

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Hurricane Dorian damage in Halifax’s west end, 08 Sept 2019 (NS Power)

Canada is a land of weather extremes and this year has been no exception with frigid winter cold and stifling summer heat which brought wildfires, flooding, snowstorms and hurricanes.

Environment Canada has compiled its annual list for 2019:

  1. Another record Ottawa River flood
  2. Destructive hurricane season especially Dorian
  3. Snowy Prairie autumn
  4. Bitterly cold February nationwide
  5. Record heat continues in the Arctic
  6. Too dry early, too wet later on Prairies
  7. Blustery Halloween in the East
  8. Spring never arrives in Eastern Canada
  9. More flooding along the St. John River
  10. Fewer wildfires but more hectares burned

Here are some weather highlights for Atlantic Canada:

  • New Year’s Day takes Newfoundland by storm
  • January Maritime storm included every type of weather
  • Winter storm forces Moncton residents outside
  • February storm causes road closures in Labrador
  • Pre-Valentine’s storm across the Maritimes
  • March starts out stormy in Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland’s icebergs please tourists and locals
  • October “weather bomb” drops lots of rain

Growing seasons in Greater Moncton

Growing Season

Data courtesy Environment Canada

After taking a look at the past seven growing seasons in Greater Moncton including 2019, the last freezing temperature in Greater Moncton in the spring has been recorded from a month-long period from early May to early June.

Meantime in the fall, the first freezing temperature has been recorded from a month-long period from mid-September to mid-October.

The total number of days above freezing during the growing season has ranged from as little as 111 days to as many as 155 days – a difference of more than one month.

Spring 2019 in review

Spring 2019
Meteorological spring in Southeast New Brunswick turned out to be colder and much wetter than normal compared to the 30-year average.

While March and April both had above normal temperatures, May was colder by a significant 2.4 degrees which brought down the overall seasonal average.

Rainfall was heavy in April and May and while snowfall was below normal for the three month period, the final snow flurries were spotted as late as 21 May.

Tornado hits National Capital Region

 

A tornado developed about 10 kilometres southeast of Gatineau Airport, Quebec early Sunday evening.

The tornado moved east along the Ottawa River before coming ashore on the Ontario side.

In the suburban Ottawa neighbourhood of Orléans, strong winds brought down trees and removed shingles on many homes with one person reportedly injured.

A thunderstorm also produced 2 centimetre hail in the area.

Environment Canada says the tornado was a low end EF-1 suggesting peak winds of 135 km/h and had a path length of at least 25 kilometres.

Hurricane season begins

2018 hurricanes

Today marks the beginning of the 2019 hurricane season which will run until the end of November.

For a record fifth consecutive year, storm activity began before the 01 June official start date when Subtropical Storm Andrea formed on 20 May.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting a near normal season with 9–15 named systems, 4–8 hurricanes, and 2–4 major hurricanes.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre begins issuing statements when a storm is within three days of entering a response zone covering Eastern Canada and adjacent waters.

May 2019 – Miserable!

Irishtown Nature Park, Moncton, 20 May 2019 (Dearing)

May 2019 proved to be the coldest May since 1974 in the Maritimes with temperatures about two or three degrees below normal.

The month started out with some warmth in Greater Moncton but it turned colder near the middle with snow recorded as late as the 21st before a slight recovery at the end.

Overnight lows were cold with six nights either at or below freezing and most minimums were in the low single digits.

Cold, damp and cloudy weather stunted growth and forced farmers to delay planting because fields were saturated.

Only three days reached or exceeded 20°C and the thermometer came nowhere near 30°C at any time of the month.

MAY 2019 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)

Average HIGH  13.4°C

Average LOW  1.8°C

AVERAGE  7.6°C (about 2.4 degrees BELOW normal)

Extreme HIGH  22.1°C (25 May)

Extreme LOW  -2.7°C (02 May)

RAINFALL  105.8 mm (about 10 percent ABOVE normal)

SNOWFALL  0.8 cm (near normal)

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Weather Network unveils summer forecast

TWN Summer 2019

After a cold and wet spring in New Brunswick, what will summer be like?

The Weather Network has unveiled its summer 2019 forecast and if you were hoping for warmer temperatures, it appears you may have to wait a little longer.

TWN suggests the season will be changeable and humid with cool weather in June but warmer than normal temperatures arriving in July stretching into August.

Extended periods of dry weather could lead to short term drought in parts of the Maritimes but overall precipitation will likely be near normal.

What about the spring 2019 forecast from The Weather Network?

TWN noted a cold wave in early March would be followed by a warmer pattern later in the month with more consistent spring-like weather by early April.

Both temperatures and precipitation were expected to be near normal.

So was the seasonal forecast accurate?

While early March was cold in Greater Moncton with a bitter low of -20.1 C, a warmer pattern never really developed except for a brief shot of warmth at month end.

April had some warmth in the middle but that fizzled near the end and while May started off strong, a cold pattern held steady for the second half of the month.

Precipitation was below seasonal in March, well above average in April and slightly above normal for May.

The Year Without Spring

Snow in Rexton, 21 May 2019 (S. Hudson/Facebook)

It snowed overnight in Southeast New Brunswick.

About 0.6 cm of wet snow was recorded at the Greater Moncton Airport and even higher accumulations around the region.

In recent history, I can’t recall a snowfall this late in the month of May.

With meteorological summer arriving in 10 days and astronomical summer in barely a month, I’ve concluded that 2019 is the “Year Without Spring”.

The cold, damp weather has impacted farmers who are at least two weeks behind in planting crops due to saturated fields.

Sidewalk patios are eerily empty and winter parkas are still being worn by many.

A frost advisory has been posted for tonight and another one will likely be posted in two days as temperatures drop to near freezing again overnight.

Will the weather improve anytime soon?

A high of 20°C is forecast for Saturday but keep in mind we often hit 30°C before the beginning of June.