Man on skis at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, 26 Feb 2018 (Casilli/Reuters)
Thanks to a cold Siberian air mass dubbed “Beast from the East”, about 10 cm of snow fell in Rome prompting Italian authorities to call in the army and help clear streets.
In St. Peter’s Square, priests from the Vatican threw snowballs at each other and students skied on a hill near the Colosseum.
The heaviest snowfall in Rome in six years forced schools to close, cancelled flights and drivers were urged to stay home.
While Rome barely climbed above freezing, temperatures fell as low as -35 C in the Italian Alps early today.
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)
Irishtown Reservoir, Moncton, 05 Nov 2017 (Dearing)
Autumn has made an abrupt return to Southeast New Brunswick.
The passage of a cold front lowered daytime highs in Greater Moncton from a near record of 19.3 C to a below seasonal high of 5.2 C over the past 24 hours.
Temperatures are poised to drop even lower later this week when the first blast of Arctic air this season moves into the Maritimes.
Environment Canada is forecasting a low of -7 C by early Saturday which will likely mean a hard, killing frost for any remaining sensitive vegetation.
Grass turning brown in NE Moncton, 26 July 2017 (Dearing)
Lawns are turning brown and gardens are thirsty in Southeast New Brunswick given the light amount of precipitation recorded so far this month.
Environment Canada says 29.8 mm of rain has fallen this July in Greater Moncton compared to an average of 92.1 mm – just under one-third of normal.
No significant rainfall is expected before the end of the month.
By contrast, parts of neighbouring Nova Scotia have been much wetter than normal with 135 mm to date at Halifax Stanfield Airport.
Ominous clouds near Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border, 03 June 2017 (Dearing)
Weather conditions have been cool and unsettled in the Maritimes over the past several days.
While driving in Nova Scotia on Friday, I encountered everything from clouds and heavy downpours to a clearing sky with bright sunshine to clouds and rain again.
On the way home to New Brunswick on Saturday, I encountered similar conditions.
In Greater Moncton today, the thermometer climbed to a daytime high of only 10.6 C under a dreary sky which is about 10 degrees below normal for early June.
Forecasters say warmer, more seasonal temperatures will return by Wednesday but not before a risk of frost in Southeast New Brunswick by early Tuesday.
Ogilvie Brook, Irishtown Nature Park, Moncton, 18 March 2017 (Dearing)
The first week of spring has felt more like the dead of winter in Southeast New Brunswick.
Greater Moncton may have missed the brunt of two storms this week but extreme cold settled in behind them with a frigid -13.7 C on 23 March.
Half of the days so far this March have recorded well below freezing average temperatures.
Environment Canada is forecasting more chilly weather for the upcoming final week with even a chance of accumulating snow.
Spillway at Irishtown Nature Park, Moncton, 26 Feb 2017 (Dearing)
Three major winter storms including a blizzard were part of a very active weather pattern in Greater Moncton during February.
While snowfall was below normal in January, it made up for it in February with more than double the average amount recorded.
Temperatures were above normal but oddly enough it was still warmer in January which is typically the coldest month.
The final week felt like spring with mild temperatures climbing above 10 C which was enough to melt most of the snow which had fallen during the previous three weeks.
FEBRUARY 2017 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)
Average HIGH -1.2 C
Average LOW -10.9 C
AVERAGE -6.2 C (about 1.4 degrees ABOVE normal)
Extreme HIGH 11.5 C (24 February)
Extreme LOW -22.6 C (12 February)
RAINFALL 19.7 mm (slightly BELOW normal)
SNOWFALL 124.1 cm (about 100 percent ABOVE normal)
(Data courtesy Environment Canada)
Clockwise from top left: Jan 2016 Moncton, May 2016 Moncton, Aug 2016 Kouchibouguac N.P., Oct 2016 Moncton
The average annual temperature for 2016 in Greater Moncton was 6.4 C which was one degree above the 1981-2010 period according to data from Environment Canada.
Precipitation was below normal with 995 mm recorded (1200 mm is average over the same thirty years) broken down as 689 mm of rain and 297 cm of snow.
The highest temperature of the year was 30.5 C on 28 July while the lowest was -22.1 C recorded on 17 December.
The growing season stretched from mid-May to early October which gave Moncton about 142 frost-free days, slightly higher than the average of 127.
Courtesy NB Highway Cameras, 25 Oct 2016
The first snow flurries of the season were spotted in Greater Moncton early this morning and snow even covered the ground in northwestern New Brunswick.
The jet stream has dipped south of the Maritimes which has allowed cold air to seep in with below normal temperatures.
The daytime high in Moncton today was only 5.2 C which is below the average maximum of 10 C for late October.
Freezing rain clings as ice on trees near Fredericton, 16 Feb 2016 (Twitter)
If anyone has ever wondered why Canadians talk about the weather so much, the previous 24-hours in Greater Moncton should serve as a great example.
The temperature bottomed out at -21.5 C yesterday morning (coldest yet this winter) and by this morning the high reached a balmy +10 C – a dramatic range of more than 30 degrees in barely a day.
Although temperature swings are common in New Brunswick during mid-winter, this one is especially extreme.
Environment Canada has issued various weather warnings for freezing rain and rain but snow is expected to be relatively light as a low pressure system moves across the region.