First storm of 2020

Heavy snow in St. John’s, NL, 06 Jan 2020 (Twitter/@kelseyhowlett93)

Just days into the new year, a low pressure system has brought mostly snow to Atlantic Canada especially near the ocean.

For most of Nova Scotia, it was winter’s first major snowfall with up to 15 cm at Halifax Stanfield Airport and nearly 40 cm in Sydney.

The storm grazed Greater Moncton with only 3 cm of snow.

After leaving the Maritimes, the system brought 42 cm snow to St. John’s, Newfoundland and 30 cm to the Burin Peninsula with a peak wind gust of 106 km/h in Bonavista.

Meantime, forecasters say another low pressure system is coming midweek.

Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2019

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Hurricane Dorian damage in Halifax’s west end, 08 Sept 2019 (NS Power)

Canada is a land of weather extremes and this year has been no exception with frigid winter cold and stifling summer heat which brought wildfires, flooding, snowstorms and hurricanes.

Environment Canada has compiled its annual list for 2019:

  1. Another record Ottawa River flood
  2. Destructive hurricane season especially Dorian
  3. Snowy Prairie autumn
  4. Bitterly cold February nationwide
  5. Record heat continues in the Arctic
  6. Too dry early, too wet later on Prairies
  7. Blustery Halloween in the East
  8. Spring never arrives in Eastern Canada
  9. More flooding along the St. John River
  10. Fewer wildfires but more hectares burned

Here are some weather highlights for Atlantic Canada:

  • New Year’s Day takes Newfoundland by storm
  • January Maritime storm included every type of weather
  • Winter storm forces Moncton residents outside
  • February storm causes road closures in Labrador
  • Pre-Valentine’s storm across the Maritimes
  • March starts out stormy in Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland’s icebergs please tourists and locals
  • October “weather bomb” drops lots of rain

Mild but stormy conditions

A break in the rain at Irishtown Nature Park reservoir, 15 Dec 2019 (Dearing)

Another intense low pressure system moved through the Maritimes on the weekend bringing a new round of heavy rain and strong winds.

After a bone-chilling start, winds changed direction and a southerly flow pushed the high in Greater Moncton to 13.8°C – close to the record of 13.9°C from 2008.

Winds were strong with gusts up to 87 km/h in Southeast New Brunswick and a peak of 91 km/h reported in Bathurst.

As the storm headed to Newfoundland, cold air plunged into the region and temperatures fell below freezing and may stay that way for several days.

Stormy American Thanksgiving weekend

US storm

Snow clearing for NFL game at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, USA, 01 Dec 2019 (R. Deutsch/USA Today)

A major winter storm made its way across the United States during the American Thanksgiving weekend disrupting travel plans for millions.

The massive system began on the West Coast as a bomb cyclone bringing wind gusts up to 160 km/h and heavy amounts of snow in the mountains.

Strong winds accompanied by a mixture of rain, freezing rain, ice pellets and snow fell from the Great Plains to the Midwest and into the Northeastern U.S.

Boston recorded 20 cm of snow with more than 60 cm falling in other parts of New England before the system headed to the Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland.

Colorado Low impacts Maritimes

Snowy Highway 102 in Bedford, NS (NS Highway Cameras)

A Colorado Low tracked through the Maritimes today bringing mixed precipitation and strong winds.

The system brought the first major snowfall to Nova Scotia with 23 cm at Halifax Stanfield Airport and lesser amounts in the city but it caught drivers and plow operators off guard creating gridlock.

About 10 to 20 cm of snow also fell in central and southwestern New Brunswick where some schools closed with slippery road conditions.

Greater Moncton had a rain/snow mix this morning with 2 cm before it changed to rain.

As this system moves off to Newfoundland, brisk winds behind it will produce gusts up to 90 km/h with snow squalls expected along coastal areas.

Sharp drop in temperature!

Temperature contrast 8pm, 12 Nov 2019 (earth nullschool.net)

Snow began falling in Southeast New Brunswick Monday night and later changed to freezing rain and then rain by Tuesday afternoon.

The temperature climbed to a balmy 14°C in Greater Moncton and 18°C in Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

But as the low pressure system moved out of the Maritimes toward Newfoundland, winds shifted to the northwest causing the thermometer to drop rapidly Tuesday night with a return to snow when it fell to freezing again.

Overnight low records could be challenged in the region by early Thursday as cold Arctic air takes hold.

Heavy, wet snow creates chaos

An early blast of winter in Moncton, 09 Nov 2019 (Dearing)

Some drivers were prepared when snow entered the forecast for the first time this week and had their winter tires installed.

But many drivers were caught off guard by the heavy, wet – sloppy – snow which fell across Southern New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, northern Nova Scotia and southwestern Newfoundland.

A low pressure system brought rain on Thursday but snow fell by evening as the temperature dropped to the freezing point.

The snow continued throughout Friday creating slippery roads which left plow operators scrambling to deal with the early blast of winter.

Many minor accidents were reported with vehicles sliding into the ditch.

The Trans Canada Highway at Cobequid Pass was forced to close for several hours Friday night after numerous tractor trailers got stuck in snow and blocked the road.

Snowfall amounts (Thu-Fri) in cm:

  • Corner Brook 19.4
  • Greater Moncton 18.8
  • Fredericton 10-15 (estimate)
  • Deer Lake 13
  • Saint John 8.9
  • Halifax Stanfield 5.8
  • Charlottetown 3.9

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Dorian likely to track near Nova Scotia

Dorian path

As slow-moving Hurricane Dorian continues churning parallel to the coastline of the Southeastern United States, the Canadian Hurricane Centre is getting a better sense of how the storm will impact Atlantic Canada this weekend.

Forecasters believe Dorian could be a Category 1 storm when it arrives on Saturday and follow a path to the east of mainland Nova Scotia.

Rainfall will be heavy to the west of the track which includes Southern New Brunswick with about 50 mm possible and perhaps as much as 100 mm for parts of Nova Scotia.

Hurricane-force winds with large waves and pounding surf are possible along the Atlantic coast near the track before the storm heads to Newfoundland on Sunday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian is now moving toward the coast of the Carolinas with strong winds, storm surges and up to 300 mm of rain.

Frost free season approaches

May is here which means it won’t be long before Jack Frost visits Atlantic Canada for the last time this spring.

Mid to late May is typically when the last frost arrives in Greater Moncton, early in the month for Halifax and late April for Yarmouth.

Early to mid June dates are normal for most of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Last year in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, frost appeared as late as early June which proved disastrous for grape, blueberry and strawberry farmers.

Second heaviest snowfall of the season

Cat enters snowbound backyard in NW Moncton, 04 March 2019 (T. Clow)

A low pressure system approached the Maritimes from the northeastern United States late Sunday night.

Snow began in New Brunswick early Monday and intensified throughout the day before tapering off to freezing drizzle by evening.

About 24 cm fell in Greater Moncton which was the second heaviest snowfall of the season after the storm on 13 February.

The system also brought snow to western and central Newfoundland later on Monday with freezing rain to the Avalon Peninsula.

Snowfall amounts (cm) as of 1AM Tuesday from Environment Canada:

  • Sydney: 26
  • Saint John Airport: 26
  • Greater Moncton Airport: 24
  • Deer Lake: 23
  • Fredericton: 21
  • Miramichi: 21
  • Charlottetown: 19
  • Greenwood: 19
  • Halifax Stanfield Airport: 17
  • Bathurst: 14
  • Gander: 14
  • Yarmouth: 12