Bitter cold, snow in the West

Snow falls in Vancouver, BC, 15 January 2020 (Vancouver PD/Twitter)

Extremely cold Arctic air has enveloped Western Canada.

Temperatures have dropped into the -30s Celsius with bitter wind chills in the -40s on the Prairies and near -50 in the northern territories.

Even the normally mild Pacific coast has not escaped a so-called Arctic outflow.

About 15 to 20 cm snow fell in Vancouver and Victoria.

Schools closed, traffic was snarled and public transit buses got stuck in a region ill-equipped to handle wintry weather.

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

Spring blizzard sweeps Prairies

A snowy sidewalk in Calgary, 27 April 2019 (Instagram/machadogiselia)

A strong low pressure system brought snow and strong winds to Alberta creating poor visibility and even thunderstorms and a possible tornado were reported.

Emergency officials scrambled to respond to more than 120 road crashes in Calgary on Sunday due to slippery, treacherous conditions after about 15 cm snow fell.

The spring blizzard continued to move across the Prairies where it dumped up to 45 cm on southwestern Saskatchewan including the Cypress Hills area.

The storm crossed into Manitoba with as little as 5 cm in the southeast to about 30 cm in the southwest.

White Christmas

While much of Canada is covered in white on this Christmas Day, many of the major cities are without a snow cover.

Only the Prairie cities of Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton were guaranteed a White Christmas.

Recent heavy rain and warm temperatures have erased the snow pack across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and southern New Brunswick.

Traditionally Greater Moncton has a 65 percent chance of having a White Christmas.

Today, the airport recorded 3 cm of snow lying on the ground but much of the city and surrounding area have no snow cover at all.

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

 

Bitter cold in the West

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Winter just won’t let go in Western Canada with Environment Canada noting the duration and intensity of the current cold snap hasn’t been felt since April 1970.

The polar vortex is to blame as the pool of Arctic air sinks south into the Prairies.

Daytime highs in southern Alberta are only climbing to -7 C with overnight lows in the -20’s C in Saskatchewan and -30’s C in Manitoba.

Forecasters say the bitter cold will hang around until the weekend.

Meteorological winter begins

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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.

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.

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.