Heat wave in the West

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Cooling off in the Elbow River, SW Calgary, AB, 27 July 2017 (Postmedia/G. Young)

Environment Canada issued heat warnings for most of Alberta along with parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba this week in the wake of sizzling high temperatures.

The weather office says a daytime maximum of 30 C or higher could pose an elevated risk of heat-related illnesses and residents should avoid outdoor activities until cooler hours of the day.

Temperatures could climb to 33 C as far north as Thompson and almost 30 C in Churchill along the Hudson Bay coast.

Forecasters say the extreme heat will continue this weekend but a slight cool down is expected early next week.

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Canada’s Top 10 of 2016

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RCMP officer in burnt neighbourhood, Fort McMurray, AB, 05 May 2016 (Alberta RCMP)

From the horrible wildfires which destroyed parts of Fort McMurray, Alberta to the winter that wasn’t to a warm, dry summer which led to drought in areas of Eastern Canada, 2016 was certainly noteworthy for major weather events.

  1. Fort McMurray’s “Fire Beast”
  2. Super El Niño Cancels Winter – 2nd warmest Canada-wide ever
  3. August Long Weekend Storm on the Prairies… Big and Costly
  4. A Summer to Remember in the East
  5. November’s Heat Wave and December’s Deep Freeze
  6. Arctic Sea Ice Going, Going… Break-up earlier/Freeze-up later
  7. Wild Summer Prairie Weather
  8. A Tale of Two Springs – Cold East and Warm West
  9. Thanksgiving Day Atlantic Weather Bomb
  10. Southwest Ontario’s $100 Million September Gusher                                               (Courtesy Environment Canada)

Warm in west, chilly in east

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Barren trees in Fairview Knoll Park, Moncton, 05 Nov 2016 (Dearing)


Most trees have now lost their leaves in Greater Moncton – with oak trees being the exception – and the starkness of November is settling in.

The thermometer dipped to a frosty -3.1 C yesterday morning which was the coldest low so far this fall and a chilly high of only 4.5 C.

It’s a different story in the Prairies and northwestern Ontario with record breaking warm temperatures climbing near 20 C which is well above normal.

Edmonton climbed to 20.6 C on Friday which was the warmest high ever for a November day in the Alberta capital.

Early spring heat in western Prairies

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Map shows temperature contrast with a front on the Prairies, 02 Apr 2016 (Twitter)

Unusually mild Pacific air has drifted into the western Prairie Provinces breaking record highs in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Some parts of southern Alberta reached 25 C yesterday and many cities either broke record highs or were close to breaking them.

Drumheller, AB set a new maximum of 24.4 C and Moose Jaw, SK reached a new record at 24.5 C.

The warm air didn’t reach Manitoba which is feeling the impact of the polar vortex which will sink over Eastern Canada this week.

Canada’s Top Ten of 2015

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Courtesy Environment Canada

1. Record Cold Winter in the East

For the second consecutive year, Canada’s top weather story was a long, cold, snowy winter from Ontario to the Maritimes.

2. Forests Blazing in the West

The wildfire season began early, ended late and was extremely active; 4,922 fires consumed an incredible 3.25 million hectares of woodland, four times the 25-year average.

3. Dry to Almost Disastrous in the West

Prairie farmers faced many challenges this year with killing frosts in May, spring and early summer dryness, and too many hailstorms.

4. Maritime Snowmaggedon

Maritimers endured brutal cold and had to dig out from record snowfalls. January, February and March were the coldest in 68 years.

5. Record Hot Dry Summer across B.C.

Persistently warm waters and a large high pressure area off the coast led to record-breaking warmth and even drought in British Columbia.

6. Stormy Summer on the Prairies

Severe summer weather events such as tornadoes, heavy rainfalls, strong winds and hailstorms numbered 307 across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba compared to an average of 234.

7. Groundhog Day Storm

The nasty nor’easter brought strong winds, poor visibility and a mix of messy precipitation from Ontario to Atlantic Canada.

8. B.C.’s Big August Blow

After heat, drought and massive wildfires, a dramatic shift in late August brought leftover fuel from tropical storm Kilo which was known more for its fierce winds than relief rains.

9. Maritime Valentine Storm, A White Juan-a-be

A powerful nor’easter charged the Maritimes on Valentine’s Day, with up to 80 cm of snow. Maritimers compared this storm with the infamous White Juan blizzard 11 years earlier.

10. January in July for St. John’s

Eastern Newfoundland had a cold July with an average high of 15.8°C, a new low record dating to 1942 and 10 degrees cooler than last year! Total July rainfall of 181 mm was the second wettest on record.

(List courtesy Environment Canada)

Smoke from B.C. forest fires invades Vancouver

Smoky sky over Vancouver, BC, 05 July 2015 (Vancouver Sun)

Smoky sky over Vancouver, BC, 05 July 2015 (Vancouver Sun)


Smoke from forest fires in southern British Columbia has led to an air quality advisory for Metro Vancouver and the south coast.

Environment Canada along with several partners issued the advisory over the weekend and cautioned residents with medical conditions to stay indoors.

Meantime, smoke from forest fires in northern Alberta and northern Saskatchewan has prompted air quality advisories across the Prairies as far south as Regina.

Canada’s Top Ten Weather Stories 2014

George Street in Fredericton, NB, 05 July 2014 (Twitter)

George Street in Fredericton, NB, 05 July 2014 (Twitter)

Each year Environment Canada compiles a list of the ten most significant weather events across the country and the following is how 2014 shaped up:

1. Canada’s Long Cold Winter – While much of the country shivered under cold and snowy conditions, Southeast New Brunswick was actually rainier and slightly warmer than normal.

2. Summer Flooding in the Eastern Prairies – Too much rain too fast over too many days led to extensive flooding in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

3. Wildfires in the West and Northwest – Exceptional warmth and dryness led to an abundance of wildfires in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

4. The Nightmare Before, During and After Christmas – A series of snow and ice storms in late 2013 and early 2014 left thousands without power for days from Ontario to Atlantic Canada.

5. Summer – Hot on Coasts, Cool in Centre – While British Columbia and Atlantic Canada enjoyed above normal temperatures, it never really got that hot or hazy in Ontario.

6. Hurricane Arthur – The first hurricane of the Atlantic season in early July packed a punch in the Maritimes with hundreds of trees toppling over on power lines leaving many in the dark for days.

7. Alberta Hailstorm – A series of thunderstorms in early August moved across Southern Alberta producing tennis to baseball-sized hailstones and covering the ground like snow.

8. Powerful December Storms on Coasts – Three storms in rapid succession battered the Pacific coast while an East Coast deluge delivered 150 mm of rain in Greater Moncton over two days and caused extensive flooding.

9. Ontario Tornadoes – The province recorded 19 this year with the worst twister in Angus near Barrie on 17 June which damaged more than 100 homes after peak wind gusts up to 220 km/h.

10. Snowtember in Alberta – The so-called snow event brought summer-like temperatures to a screeching halt on 07 September when upwards of 40 cm of snow fell on Calgary and region over the next three days.

Polar vortex sinks south

590x393_11101954_pvThe coldest blast of air so far this autumn is impacting much of North America this week bringing snow and icy temperatures to the middle of the continent.

Thanks to a monster storm in Alaska producing 15-metre waves, the polar vortex has sunk south with the Prairies struggling to reach highs of -10 C and snow moving into the American Midwest.

Colder temperatures are in store for Southeast New Brunswick later this week according to Environment Canada with highs barely above freezing under mostly clear skies.

Northern fires keep southern temperatures down

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Winds are carrying smoke from forest fires in British Columbia, the Prairies and the Northwest Territories into Ontario and the Northeastern United States.

Forecasters say the smoke is even lowering temperatures by several degrees which has explained why Central Canada and the eastern Great Lakes region have been experiencing lower than average temperatures so far this summer.

The jet stream has been carrying the smoke but officials say it is moving at such a high altitude that air quality will likely not be affected in the region.

Arctic outbreak heading east

tmp_SC20131210-175752-1651323047Bitter cold which recently enveloped the Prairies with bone-chilling temperatures is spreading east across the continent and will reach New Brunswick by Thursday.

Environment Canada is calling for lows of -20 C in Greater Moncton by Friday which could challenge some records.

The severe cold means the overnight 5 cm snowfall will likely stick around for a few days.

Meantime, forecasters are suggesting another significant snowfall could come on Sunday.