Warm spring-like sunshine could felt on my western facing balcony this afternoon in northeast Moncton and for few precious minutes it almost felt like winter was over.
The thermometer climbed to 12.9 C at the Greater Moncton International Airport which just barely eclipsed the record high of 12.8 C from 1953.
Other record highs were set across the Maritimes including 13.8 C in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia and 10.4 C in Edmundston.
But further to the west, the temperature climbed to a balmy 17.6 C in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
The beaches of Varadero, Cuba, 15 February 2018 (Dearing)
Let’s face it, winter in Southeast New Brunswick has been a volatile roller coaster ride with wildly fluctuating temperatures and unusual amounts of mixed precipitation.
I wanted an escape, so a two-week vacation getaway to Cuba was in order.
From 06-20 February, the island’s most popular beach destination of Varadero enjoyed daytime highs in the upper 20s C with glorious sunshine and just a few passing clouds.
Winter is the dry season in Cuba and precipitation was light except for a lengthy downpour of rain during just one early morning.
Varadero has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean and millions of international visitors – mostly Canadians – flock there every year.
A snow free downtown Moncton, 28 Jan 2018 (Dearing)
With a daytime high of 7 C, it felt more like spring than midwinter along the Riverfront Trail in Moncton today.
Skateboarders instead of snowshoers were found along with joggers in shorts and T-shirts and a group having a picnic in the late afternoon sun.
A lack of snow cancelled numerous winter activities this weekend and ski resorts put snowmaking machines into overdrive to open just a handful of runs.
Environment Canada says winter is returning with a low pressure system arriving Tuesday with up to 15 cm of snow possible in Southeast New Brunswick.
Snow accumulates in Tallahassee, Florida, USA, 03 Jan 2018 (Twitter)
For the first time in 28 years, the capital of America’s Sunshine State had measurable snow.
Tallahassee may occasionally see snowflakes in winter but today was only the fourth time since 1950 that snow actually accumulated on the ground.
The wintry blast was thanks to a so-called bomb cyclone which originated off Florida’s east coast and is barreling up the Atlantic toward the Maritimes.
The intense storm system also brought heavy freezing rain to South Carolina and blizzard warnings have been posted from Virginia to Maine.
Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for Greater Moncton and Southeast New Brunswick with 30 cm of snow/ice pellets and 10 mm of rain as the temperature finally climbs above freezing.
The thermometer has not risen above zero since Christmas Day and seven straight days have been below -10 C.
Several weather outlets are forecasting a major winter storm will hit the Maritimes bringing heavy snow and strong winds to New Brunswick just days into 2018.
Blizzard conditions are possible along with large waves and high water levels along the coast.
Nova Scotia may get more rain along the Atlantic coast while a rain/snow mix is likely inland.
Until the storm arrives, Arctic air remains firmly in place with several cities in Ontario setting new record lows on New Year’s Day including -22.6 C at Toronto Pearson Airport and -28.6 C at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier Airport.
A portion of Niagara Falls has frozen over, along Canada-US border, 31 Dec 2017 (Instagram)
Environment Canada issued an extreme cold warning today for most of New Brunswick with frigid temperatures and moderate winds bringing bitter wind chills between -30 and -36 on New Year’s Day and 02 January.
From Yukon to Quebec, extreme cold warnings have been posted prompting many cities including Toronto and Ottawa to cancel some New Year’s Eve festivities or move events indoors.
In Calgary, zoo officials say it’s been so cold even the penguins have been brought inside.
Claresholm, Alberta set a new record low of -41.8 C and Brooks was close behind at -40.5 C.
Icy road on the Acadian Peninsula, 27 Jan 2017 (Twitter)
Canada had the eighth warmest period in 70 years of reporting weather in 2017, with temperatures averaging 1.4°C above normal.
From a list of 100 significant weather events across the country, Environment Canada picked the top 10 weather stories of the year:
1. Long and destructive summer wildfire season in British Columbia
2. Hot and dry summer in the West from Interior BC to Manitoba
3. Spring flooding in Quebec and Ontario
4. Cold and snowy winter in BC including Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island
5. More heavy rain and flooding in Southwestern Ontario during late August
6. Cool and wet summer in Central Canada
7. Heavy snow cripples Ontario and Quebec in mid-March
8. Record heat across Eastern Canada during September
9. Blizzards hit Newfoundland in March and April
10. Lengthy ice storm impacts New Brunswick in late January
Frigid temperatures across Canada, observed 8am AST 28 Dec 2017
This is Canada and we know it gets cold in the winter but the bitter Arctic air which has enveloped almost the entire country is a bit unusual so early in the season.
Environment Canada says the size of the cold wave – from interior British Columbia to Atlantic Canada – and the duration of the frigid weather are exceptional for late December.
Meteorologists say 1993 was the last time there was a similar cold spell between Christmas and New Year’s.
Only the coast of British Columbia will escape the worst but even there, daytime temperatures will barely climb above freezing.
Barely white on Christmas morning in Truro, NS, 25 December 2017 (Dearing)
Technically in Truro, Nova Scotia, it wasn’t a White Christmas with snow falling later in the morning which changed to freezing rain, ice pellets and eventually rain.
But by late afternoon, winds gusted to almost 100 km/h which knocked down trees and power lines leaving thousands in the dark on Christmas Day.
In Greater Moncton, snow and blowing snow were factors on December 25 with about 20 cm accumulating – the heaviest snowfall so far this season.
Across Canada, Vancouver had a trace of white for Christmas while Victoria had 3 cm of snow.
Calgary is still digging out from a 30 cm snowfall a few days ago, Winnipeg had its coldest Christmas in 20 years plunging to -30 C and Toronto picked up 10 cm during the day.
Map courtesy Brian Brettschneider (Twitter)
Greater Moncton experienced its shortest day of the year with 8 hours and 37 minutes of daylight.
The winter solstice occurred at 12:28pm in New Brunswick marking the point where the direct rays of the sun begin moving north from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Equator.
As the above map shows, most of the Maritimes, Southern Quebec and Southern Ontario have between 8.5 and 9 hours of daylight on this date.
North of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not rise at all today.