Winter vs. spring – the battle begins…

Environment Canada (Canadian Ice Service), 21 March 2015

Environment Canada (Canadian Ice Service), 21 March 2015

Spring is officially here but anyone living in New Brunswick knows that now is often when the battle lines are drawn.

Cold Arctic air can linger and along with an almost ice-covered Gulf of St. Lawrence creates a cooling affect which repeatedly fights it out with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for Greater Moncton as a low pressure system intensifies tonight over the Maritimes with as much as 15 cm expected by late Sunday.

The Canadian Ice Service map shows ice is breaking up in the Gulf of St. Lawrence around Anticosti Island, Lakes Ontario and Michigan are nearly ice-free but the Labrador coast and Hudson Bay are still solidly frozen.

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Polar vortex slowly retreating

An icy Lake Michigan with Chicago in the distance, 07 Jan 2014 (Twitter)

An icy Lake Michigan with Chicago in the distance, 07 Jan 2014 (Twitter)

The good news is the polar vortex is starting to retreat northward which means January temperatures are returning to more seasonal values across much of Canada and the United States.

The coldest weather in two decades enveloped much of the continent this week.

Major cities such as Chicago set new record lows when the temperature overnight dropped to -27°C and the daytime high only reached -19°C.

The lowest reading in the mainland U.S. was reported at International Falls, Minnesota, where the thermometer fell to -42°C.