Hello Spring!

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Magnolia tree in bloom, downtown Moncton, spring 2018 (Dearing)

The spring equinox officially arrived at 6:58pm ADT in the Northern Hemisphere which marks the moment when the Sun is directly above the equator as it moves northward.

The length of days are now roughly equal to the length of nights and the amount of daylight will continue to increase until the first day of summer on June 21st.

To mark the end of astronomical winter, here are a few highlights across Canada from the last three months:

  • Record highs were set in Atlantic Canada just before Christmas with 12.8°C in Greater Moncton on 22 December.
  • Edmonton broke numerous cold records during February with readings as low as -41.2°C and all but four days were in the minus 20’s and 30’s.
  • Snowfall records fell in coastal British Columbia from 10-12 February with 69 cm in Nanaimo and 52 cm in Victoria – more than what is normally received in an entire winter season!

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

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Spring arrives early in the North

A warm air mass has surged into Western Canada this week bringing record temperatures to the region and also to the North.

Many communities from Yukon to Nunavut were well above freezing and into the double digits breaking March records.

Yohin Lake hit a record high of 18.8°C Monday and spiked to 20.2°C Tuesday marking the first time in March the thermometer has climbed above 20°C in Northwest Territories.

Daytime highs in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley hit the mid 20’s while Alberta residents enjoyed maximums in the high teens.

Winter snowfall across Canada

TWN Snowmap

It has been quite a winter across Canada with no region reporting a shortage of snow.

Snowfall has been especially heavy in the West this season especially coastal British Columbia which usually sees only scant amounts.

Victoria, BC had almost 70 cm of snow in February – more than what typically falls all winter – even higher than snowy Moncton at nearly 60 cm last month.

While many areas of the West have already exceeded their snowfall amounts for an average winter, much of the East is still falling short of a normal season.

The deepest snowpack can be found in northern New Brunswick, central Quebec, Labrador, the Rockies and B.C.’s mountain ranges.

Coastal B.C. gets winter wallop

Victoria BC

Victoria, BC, 12 Feb 2019 (Royal BC Museum Inner Harbour Webcam)

Wintry weather doesn’t visit the coast of British Columbia very often but it certainly causes disruption when it arrives.

Following back to back snow days, Vancouver has picked up almost 25 cm of snow with higher amounts in the Fraser Valley and Victoria has recorded more than 40 cm.

An Arctic outflow pushing temperatures below freezing combined with low pressure off Vancouver Island is creating snowy rather than more typical rainy conditions.

Traffic and transit services were snarled, schools were cancelled and scattered power outages kept crews busy in the region.

Unbelievable cold in the West!

COLD

Thermometer reading near Edmonton where Celsius meets Fahrenheit, 05 Feb 2019 (Twitter)

An Arctic air mass has plunged much of Western Canada into the deep freeze with the coldest weather in nearly a decade.

Frigid temperatures have broken records in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia with the wind chill making it feel more like -50 in some areas!

Emergency responders had many calls related to frostbite and hypothermia with seniors and young children being especially vulnerable to the cold.

Auto clubs had almost ten times as many requests from drivers for dead car batteries.

These locations were among new minimums set on 05-06 February 2019:

Key Lake, SK
New record of -47.7
Old record of -44.0 set in 2007
Records started in 1976

Meadow Lake, SK
New record of -43.5
Old record of -41.0 set in 1979
Records started in 1959

Saskatoon, SK
New record of -42.5
Old record of -41.7 set in 1907
Records started in 1900

Grande Prairie, AB
New record of -41.5
Old record of -39.4 set in 1933
Records started in 1922

Edmonton International Airport, AB
New record of -41.2
Old record of -37.2 set in 1975
Records started in 1959

Jasper, AB
New record of -39.4
Old record of -35.7 set in 2014
Records started in 1916

Blue River, BC
New record -35.6
Old record -33.0 set in 1989

Lytton, BC
New record -17.4
Old record -17.2 set in 1949

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Storm ravaged B.C. to get more active weather

Power crews working on restoration efforts in Nanaimo, BC, 25 Dec 2018 (BC Hydro)

Almost 7,000 customers are still without electricity in British Columbia after the most powerful windstorm in 20 years struck the province a week ago.

BC Hydro says most of the remaining outages are in the southern Gulf Islands and those customers should be back on the grid by New Year’s Eve.

At the storm’s peak about 700,000 customers were in the dark after wind gusts of between 90 and 123 km/h were recorded on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

After a brief quiet period over Christmas, the next system is coming this weekend bringing more active weather including rain, snow, and gusty winds.

Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2018

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Wildfires create smoky sky over downtown Calgary, AB, 14 Aug 2018 (Dearing)

Here is the annual list from Environment Canada:

  1. Record wildfires and smoky summer skies in the West
  2. Summer heat wave from East to West
  3. Tough growing season in the Prairies
  4. Powerful May winds impact Ontario and Quebec
  5. September tornadoes touch down in Ottawa-Gatineau
  6. Spring flooding in southern British Columbia
  7. Historic spring flooding along the St. John River Valley
  8. August deluge in Toronto
  9. Record cold start to a long winter nationwide
  10. Cold and stormy April for the East

 

September snow in Alberta!

Snow falls in Edmonton, AB, 12 Sept 2018 (Instagram)

Cold Arctic air has combined with moisture moving over the Rockies to give Alberta a taste of winter in late summer.

Forecasters say northern Alberta including Edmonton could receive at least 8 cm snow with up to 15 cm in Jasper.

Temperatures are hovering near or slightly below freezing with a plunge to -6°C in northern British Columbia.

Environment Canada says more seasonable weather is not expected to return until early next week.

B.C. wildfire smoke in the Maritimes!

The sun becomes an orange ball due to wildfire smoke, SE Calgary, AB, 14 Aug 2018 (Dearing)

British Columbia is more than 4,000 kilometres away from New Brunswick but that hasn’t stopped forest fire smoke from making its way across Canada.

On Friday afternoon, Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement: A plume of smoke from fires in Western Canada is moving at high altitude across the Maritimes today causing hazy skies and a reddish sun.

This smoke is not expected to reach the surface or affect air quality in our region and the plume will move off to the east tonight.

The British Columbia Wildfire Service says more than 600 fires are burning in the province with many regions still under air quality advisories.

Smoke impacts Alberta air quality

Smoke over downtown Calgary, AB, 14 August 2018 (Dearing)

Smoke from forest fires in British Columbia is streaming into Alberta resulting in poor air quality and reduced visibility.

Environment Canada says smoke conditions can change quickly during wildfires but air quality will be poor for the rest of the week.

Small children, seniors and anyone with chronic conditions are especially at risk.

British Columbia has declared a state of emergency with over 560 out-of-control wildfires forcing 3,000 residents from their homes and another 20,000 are under evacuation alert.