Icy conditions in a parking lot of NE Moncton, 11 Jan 2018 (Dearing)
Environment Canada issued a flash freeze warning for much of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island early today.
A low pressure system brought snow, later rain and then snow again after the temperature plummeted as Arctic air pushed back into the region.
The daytime high in Greater Moncton was 3.0 C at 11am and pooling water began freezing when the thermometer dropped below freezing by 3pm.
By early Saturday, forecasters say the low could drop to -20 C but temperatures will moderate on Sunday before falling again on Monday.
The Petitcodiac River in Moncton looking toward Dieppe, 28 January 2018 (Dearing)
The first month of 2018 proved to be quite a roller coaster ride in Southeast New Brunswick.
Bitter cold to begin January was briefly erased by a fast-moving ‘bomb cyclone’ until another Arctic blast sunk the low to -22.3 C with a bitter wind chill of -36.
A record thaw saw the thermometer climb to 16.7 C in Greater Moncton – the highest ever in January – and a new all-time provincial high of 17.3 C in Sussex.
Precipitation was above average overall with near normal snowfall – 25 cm was the heaviest snow event on 30-31 – and about twice as much rainfall.
JANUARY 2018 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)
Average HIGH -2.0 C
Average LOW -12.6 C
AVERAGE -7.4 C (1.5 degrees ABOVE normal)
Extreme HIGH 16.7 C (13 Jan, new all-time monthly high)
Extreme LOW -22.3 C (07 Jan)
RAINFALL 53.3 mm (almost 50 percent ABOVE normal)
SNOWFALL 77.2 cm (NEAR normal)
(Data courtesy Environment Canada)
Snow is piled high in Boston, MA, USA, 05 Jan 2018 (AP)
Much of New Brunswick was under another extreme cold warning this weekend with a near record low of -22.3 C in Greater Moncton today (record is -23.3 C from 1945) and a bone-chilling wind chill near -36.
Environment Canada is calling for temperatures to moderate this week with a return to near normal values and even above freezing temperatures by Thursday.
The Northeast United States has also been under a cold snap and the thermometer bottomed out Sunday with record lows in a number of cities including Burlington, Vermont at -29 C and Portland, Maine at -24 C.
Boston, Massachusetts tied its record low of -19 C just days after digging out from 34 cm of snow during the ‘bomb cyclone’ and being inundated with icy floodwaters from the highest tides in a century.
Powerful storm surge causes flooding along the waterfront in Halifax, NS, 05 Jan 2018 (Twitter)
The ‘bomb cyclone’ or ‘snow hurricane’ – featuring a dramatic drop in atmospheric pressure when warm and cold air collided – has left the Maritimes and spared Southeast New Brunswick from the worst of its fury.
While strong winds were a factor throughout the region, Greater Moncton received less snow compared to further north and west.
To the south and east, more rain fell along with hurricane-force winds (up to 200 km/h gusts in western Cape Breton) which created powerful storm surges causing flooding along the coast.
Here are some totals from Environment Canada and local estimates:
- Greater Moncton Airport 14 cm snow, 10 mm rain, 91 km/h wind gust
- Bathurst 58 cm snow, 80 km/h wind gust
- Fredericton 30 cm snow, 78 km/h wind gust
- Saint John 5 cm snow, 20 mm rain, 87 km/h wind gust
- Halifax Stanfield Airport 40 mm rain, trace snow, 122 km/h wind gust
The storm may have departed but Arctic air has filtered back into the Maritimes which will mean a bitterly cold weekend.
Several weather outlets are forecasting a major winter storm will hit the Maritimes bringing heavy snow and strong winds to New Brunswick just days into 2018.
Blizzard conditions are possible along with large waves and high water levels along the coast.
Nova Scotia may get more rain along the Atlantic coast while a rain/snow mix is likely inland.
Until the storm arrives, Arctic air remains firmly in place with several cities in Ontario setting new record lows on New Year’s Day including -22.6 C at Toronto Pearson Airport and -28.6 C at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier Airport.
Heavy snow falling in northeast Moncton, 09 Dec 2017 (Dearing)
December in Southeast New Brunswick started out on a normal note with above freezing daytime highs and chilly but not frigid overnight lows.
But an early Arctic blast settled in over the Maritimes by mid-month and Greater Moncton had five days below -10 C with four nights plunging to -20 C or lower.
After near normal precipitation last month, both rainfall and snowfall were below normal for December.
Two major snow events were recorded on 9-10 Dec (16 cm) and 25 Dec (20 cm) with a significant rainfall on 23 Dec (10 mm).
DECEMBER 2017 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)
Average HIGH -2.5 C
Average LOW -10.7 C
AVERAGE -6.6 C (1.8 degrees BELOW normal)
Extreme HIGH 11.1 C (06 Dec)
Extreme LOW -21.8 C (31 Dec)
RAINFALL 39.1 mm (almost 30 percent BELOW normal)
SNOWFALL 51.4 cm (almost 20 percent BELOW normal)
(Data courtesy Environment Canada)
Frigid temperatures across Canada, observed 8am AST 28 Dec 2017
This is Canada and we know it gets cold in the winter but the bitter Arctic air which has enveloped almost the entire country is a bit unusual so early in the season.
Environment Canada says the size of the cold wave – from interior British Columbia to Atlantic Canada – and the duration of the frigid weather are exceptional for late December.
Meteorologists say 1993 was the last time there was a similar cold spell between Christmas and New Year’s.
Only the coast of British Columbia will escape the worst but even there, daytime temperatures will barely climb above freezing.
A ridge of clouds as the sun rises over northern Nova Scotia near Truro, 15 Dec 2017 (Dearing)
A ridge of clouds as the sun rose over northern Nova Scotia was an awesome sight to behold during a trip from Moncton to Halifax on Friday.
Although Greater Moncton lost most of its snow cover due to rain a few days ago, Truro picked up some snow early Friday (5-10 cm) but Halifax was snow-free.
The Nova Scotia capital did pick up a few centimetres early Saturday but Truro and Moncton didn’t.
But the entire Maritimes is under an Arctic air mass which has brought cold wind chills to -25 and daytime highs well below freezing.
Most Canadians know winter, astronomically speaking, begins around 21 December but we know the season actually gets underway weeks before then.
Meteorologists like to package winter into neat three month blocks which is why 01 December marks the start of meteorological winter and 28 February marks the end.
In its three month outlook, Environment Canada expects most of New Brunswick will have above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.
A large swath of the Arctic will likely be warmer than usual while Ontario and the southern Prairies will have higher amounts of rain and snow compared to normal.
A sunny but cold morning in west end Moncton, 13 Nov 2017 (Dearing)
Clear skies and an Arctic air mass lowered temperatures in Greater Moncton to a chilly -9.0 C on November 12th and 13th.
Recent data shows temperatures that low (within 2 and 3 degrees of record lows) typically don’t occur until later in the month and the thermometer failed to climb above freezing on the 12th which is also earlier than normal.
A new record low was set at the Saint John Airport when it fell to -11.3 C on the 12th.
Quite a contrast from just a week ago when several communities in New Brunswick climbed into the low 20s Celsius.