Meteorological winter begins

EC winter

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.

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Arctic air chills Ontario

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Heavy snow in Mount Forest, ON, 10 Nov 2017 (TWN)

Temperatures have felt more like January than November across Ontario as an Arctic air mass brought snow and record cold to many communities.

Both Toronto Pearson and Toronto Island Airports set new lows early Friday and early Saturday near -10 C which in some cases dated back to the mid-1800s.

Police warned drivers to slow down on highways which became slick with the first snowfall of the season.

April 2017 – Spring sputters

Budding trees in Fairview Knoll Park, Moncton, 30 April 2017 (Dearing)

Spring seldom arrives on time in New Brunswick and this year is no exception even though April was actually warmer than normal in Greater Moncton.

The month can be broken into four segments – cold in the beginning, then warm, turning cold again and finally warm again near the end.

A consistent snow cover began on 27 November and disappeared briefly in late January before finally melting for the season by 10 April.

Precipitation overall was below average with much less snow than normal.

APRIL 2017 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)

Average HIGH 10.5 C

Average LOW -0.8 C

AVERAGE 4.9 C (about 1.4 degrees ABOVE normal)

Extreme HIGH 21.8 C (27 April)

Extreme LOW -7.7 C (01, 19 April)

RAINFALL 42.5 mm (about 30 percent BELOW normal)

SNOWFALL 6.8 cm (about 75 percent BELOW normal)

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Winter won’t let go!

Still looks like winter in NE Moncton, 31 March 2017 (Dearing)

The temperature was warmer in the far north cities of Whitehorse and Yellowknife than it was in Greater Moncton.

The thermometer barely climbed above freezing today but at least the sun made an appearance after a five day absence.

Lots of cloud and frequent periods of snow have made the end of March look more like the beginning of January.

Environment Canada is not forecasting spring-like weather in the near future with another possible snowstorm by the middle of next week.

Record warmth in central, eastern United States

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Cherry blossoms in bloom, Washington, DC, USA, 02 March 2017 (Instagram)

During January and February, the city of Chicago only had a few centimetres of snow with no measurable amount on the ground for the first time in 146 years.

Record highs were broken from New England to Texas where temperatures recently soared into the high 20’s C causing trees and flowers to bloom ahead of schedule.

The cherry blossoms in Washington, DC could reach their peak on 14 March which would be the earliest.since officials began keeping track in 1921.

Climatologists say much of the central and eastern United States had a very warm winter with February 2017 being the second warmest in 123 years of records.

UPDATE – The cherry blossoms in Washington, DC actually reached their peak on 25 March after being delayed by a cold snap and snow.

February 2017 – Lots of snow then mild

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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)

January 2017 – Milder, less snowy but icy

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Ice buildup tilts power pole in Salisbury, NB, 25 Jan 2017 (Facebook/Salisbury Happenings)

The defining weather event of January 2017 in New Brunswick was the devastating ice storm which brought down power lines and poles leaving more than 133,000 electricity customers in the dark for days.

Freezing rain and ice pellets began falling in Greater Moncton and Southeast New Brunswick on 25 January and the storm eventually moved northeast to Miramichi and the Acadian Peninsula.

Emergency shelters were set up in churches and community centres and the military was called in to help after some households were still without power a week later.

While overnight lows became frigid during the early and middle parts of the month, daytime highs were generally much milder than usual.

JANUARY 2017 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)

Average HIGH  -1.2 C

Average LOW  -9.5 C

AVERAGE  -5.3 C (about 3.6 degrees ABOVE normal)

Extreme HIGH  8.5 C (12 January)

Extreme LOW  -23.2 C (10 January)

RAINFALL  65.7 mm (about 100 percent ABOVE normal)

SNOWFALL  48.9 cm (about 60 percent BELOW normal)

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Military joins ice storm relief effort

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Members of the military go door to door in Lameque, NB, 31 Jan 2017 (JTFA/Twitter)

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been dispatched to the Acadian Peninsula to help in the cleanup following the recent ice storm.

Thousands are still without electricity in northeastern New Brunswick almost a week after the devastating storm.

About 200 members of the military are doing various tasks including going door to door in communities to check on residents who may still be in their homes.

NB Power describes this “crisis” event as being worse than Hurricane Arthur in 2014.

Another rollercoaster ride!

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The January wolf moon over downtown Moncton, 11 Jan 2017 (Dearing)

Greater Moncton is experiencing another see-saw temperature pattern this week.

After the thermometer fell to -23.2 early Tuesday (coldest yet this winter and coldest since February 2015), a Colorado Low brought milder air and rain to Southeast New Brunswick today with a balmy high of 7.7 C.

But an Arctic air mass is pushing in again by the weekend and Environment Canada says a drop to -19 C is forecast by early Saturday.

By early next week, temperatures are set to get warmer again and climb above freezing.

Meteorological winter begins

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NE Moncton after first major snowfall of season, 30 Nov 2016 (Dearing)

It’s beginning to look like winter in Greater Moncton so it’s timely 01 December marks the start of meteorological winter which also includes January and February.

The Old Farmers Almanac and The Weather Network have suggested much of the country including Atlantic Canada can expect a “classic Canadian winter.”

Let’s look back at the last three meteorological winters to see how they compare:

2015-16 in Greater Moncton

December 2015, average temperature -0.4°C (4.4°C ABOVE normal), snowfall 96.4 cm, rainfall 56.3 mm

January 2016, average temperature -6.1°C (2.8°C ABOVE normal), snowfall 53.6 cm, rainfall 23.8 mm

February 2016, average temperature -4.4°C (3.4°C ABOVE normal), snowfall 79.6 cm, rainfall 33.3 mm

2014-2015 in Greater Moncton

December 2014, average temperature -2.1°C (2.7°C ABOVE normal), snowfall  10.9 cm, rainfall  246.6 mm (new December record)

January 2015, average temperature -10.2°C (1.3°C BELOW normal), snowfall 153.0 cm, rainfall 33.7 mm

February 2015, average temperature -13.6°C (6°C BELOW normal), snowfall 168.6 cm, rainfall 3.2 mm

2013-2014 in Greater Moncton

December 2013, average temperature -7.4°C (2.6°C BELOW normal), snowfall 130.8 cm, rainfall 62.6 mm

January 2014, average temperature -7.3°C (1.6°C ABOVE normal), snowfall  32.8 cm, rainfall 83.6 mm

February 2014, average temperature -7.1°C (0.5°C ABOVE normal),  snowfall  92.7 cm, rainfall 39.4 mm