How dry is it?

Drought

Yellow/brown areas show dry to moderate drought conditions, 01 June 2020 (Agriculture Canada)

Most of New Brunswick is extremely dry and has been for months which is a big concern for agriculture.

Environment Canada data shows winter snowfall was about 20 percent below normal in Greater Moncton and precipitation has been below average every month since March.

June rainfall was only one-third of normal and the last major amount – 21.3 mm – fell on 12 June which was just prior to a prolonged heat wave.

Prior to that, 09 May is the previous date with appreciable precipitation – 14.1 mm – which also included some snow!

Farmers in Southeast New Brunswick – already coping with a pandemic – say the drought has put many crops including potatoes in danger and without irrigation total losses can be expected.

In addition, a strawberry farmer notes how a light frost earlier this month (10 June) caused some damage with many berries in bloom at the time.

Winter 2019-20 in Review

Data courtesy Environment Canada

Meteorological winter in Greater Moncton covering the months of December, January and February proved to be almost two degrees above normal compared to the 30-year average.

The warmest temperatures were recorded in December while frigid weather in February saw the coldest low in five years.

Precipitation was about 25 percent below normal with little snow in December and barely any rain in February.

February 2020 – Cold yet above normal

Ducks on ice, Irishtown Nature Park, Moncton, 29 Feb 2020 (Dearing)

Some of the coldest lows yet this winter were recorded in February yet the mean monthly temperature in Greater Moncton was actually above normal based on the 30-year average.

Four overnight lows dropped to -20°C or lower with a frigid -24.4°C on 15 Feb which was the coldest minimum in five years (since February 2015).

Eleven days were below freezing but daytime highs climbed above freezing during the final week of the month.

Three major storms brought above normal snowfall but a scant 1.0 mm of rain was recorded which was well below the average of 28 mm.

FEBRUARY 2020 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)

Average HIGH -1.0°C

Average LOW -11.4°C

AVERAGE -6.2°C (about 1.4 degrees ABOVE normal)

Extreme HIGH 7.3°C (24 Feb)

Extreme LOW -24.4°C (15 Feb)

RAINFALL 1.0 mm (substantially BELOW normal)

SNOWFALL 71.2 cm (slightly ABOVE normal)

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Winter storm sweeps Eastern Canada

Snow falls in NE Moncton, 27 Feb 2020 (Dearing)

A major winter storm moved across Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada delivering snow, rain, freezing rain, strong winds and ice pellets.

Police told drivers to stay off the roads, many flights were grounded, schools closed and some businesses shut down.

Almost 17 cm of snow/ice pellets fell in Greater Moncton which made roads treacherous and forced the transit system to cancel service by late afternoon.

Snowfall amounts (in cm):

  • Mont-Laurier, QC 49
  • Pembroke, ON 34
  • Gaspe, QC 25 to 45
  • Ingonish Beach, NS 25
  • Miramichi, NB 22
  • Quebec City area 20 to 40
  • Edmundston, NB 18
  • Greater Moncton 17
  • Ottawa 17
  • Fredericton 16
  • Toronto Pearson 15
  • London 12
  • Greater Montreal 5 to 15
  • St. John’s 11

Duration of freezing rain (in hours):

  • CFB Trenton 7
  • Kingston 5
  • Ottawa 1.5

Rainfall (in mm):

  • Western Head, NS 47
  • Shelburne, NS 34

Wind gusts (in km/h):

  • Grand Etang, Cape Breton, NS 181
  • Wreckhouse, NL 181
  • Yarmouth, NS 118
  • Port aux Basques, NL 123
  • Quebec City 102
  • Stephenville, NL 100
  • Picton area, ON 101
  • Sydney, NS 93
  • Halifax Stanfield 89
  • Toronto Billy Bishop 82

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Groundhogs send mixed messages

Shubenacadie Sam sees his shadow, Shubenacadie, NS, 02 Feb 2020 (Twitter)

The first marmot in North America to make a weather prediction on Groundhog Day was Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam who saw his shadow early today which means another six weeks of winter.

However, Ontario’s Wiarton Willie and Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see their respective shadows hence an early spring is expected.

So which groundhog do we believe?

The annual tradition originated in Germany and traces its roots to religion rather than science.

Environment Canada notes how data over the last 30 to 40 years shows that the groundhogs have only been correct about 37 percent of the time.

But admittedly, it’s a fun way to mark the midpoint of winter whether or not it wraps up early or drags on into spring.

Coldest, snowiest yet this winter

Snow covered steps in NE Moncton, 19 Jan 2020 (Dearing)

On the heels of the coldest weather so far this winter in Greater Moncton with lows of -21°C comes the heaviest snowfall to date.

A Colorado Low arrived in the Maritimes on Sunday after delivering a blow to the middle of the continent including Ontario and Quebec.

Since it was already very cold across Southern New Brunswick, the snow that fell was light and dry – unlike so-called “heart attack” snow which is heavy and wet.

Snowfall totals (in cm):

  • Minto area  31
  • Greater Moncton Airport  25
  • Fredericton area  16
  • Saint John Airport  13
  • Miramichi  10
  • Bathurst  4

(Data courtesy volunteer observations)

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

Wind & rain cause damage

Roof damage at apartment building, Heather Way, 10 Dec 2019 (City of Saint John)

Strong winds and heavy rain from a strong low pressure system caused damage to properties and localized flooding in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The Saint John area was hard hit with wind gusts up to 95 km/h which led to power outages and roof damage to at least two apartment buildings.

No one was hurt but all tenants were evacuated and assisted by the Red Cross.

Many roads were closed due to flooding or fallen trees and there were voluntary evacuations in Sussex in low lying areas.

The storm also brought mild, record-breaking temperatures with highs of 11°C in Edmundston and 12°C in Bathurst and Woodstock.

Greater Moncton hit 13.7°C but the record for 10 December was 15°C from 1957.

Rainfall totals (in mm) as of 8am on 10 December 2019:

  • Mechanic Settlement, NB  94 mm
  • Saint John Airport  63 mm
  • Kejimkujik NP, NS  53 mm
  • Dorchester, NB  50 mm
  • Yarmouth, NS  43 mm
  • Halifax (city)  48 mm
  • Fredericton  33 mm
  • Greater Moncton 26 mm

Peak wind gusts (km/h):

  • Cheticamp area, NS  135
  • Sydney  106
  • Halifax (Shearwater)  102
  • Saint John Airport  95
  • Lunenburg  92
  • Grand Manan, NB  89

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Heavy rain may cause flooding

Snow settles in Moncton, 05 Dec 2019 (Dearing)

The latest low pressure to invade the Maritimes is bringing heavy rain and strong winds to Southern New Brunswick and Northern Nova Scotia.

Environment Canada has issued a rainfall warning with up to 70 mm possible especially along the Fundy coast and strong winds gusting up to 90 km/h.

Meteorologists say that much rain is a lot for frozen ground to absorb and along with an existing snowpack could create localized flooding.

After a few days with below freezing temperatures, the small amount of snow in Greater Moncton has been taken away by the rain and a mild high of 12°C.

The forecast is calling for much colder air behind this system with some snow likely on Wednesday.