Saturday, June 25, 2016

Perfect weather weekend for Quebec and Ontario - historic West Virginia flooding

Catastrophic flash flooding in West Virginia has resulted in at least 23 deaths. 
(NBC News)
For the second weekend in a row, high pressure is in control of our weather across southern Quebec, Ontario and New England. Sunshine will dominate, with just a few afternoon clouds. Temperatures will be very warm once again, rising up to 30C (86F). Overnight lows will be comfortable, around 17C (63F). A frontal system will bring us some showers on Monday, along with slightly cooler weather. More showers and thunderstorms are expected Tuesday, before skies clear Wednesday. Temperatures will warm up again as we approach the Canada Day long weekend.

MODERATE DROUGHT
Speaking of rain showers, moisture is badly needed. Moderate drought conditions prevail across the entire region. Most locations have reported consecutive months of less than 50 percent of the normal precipitation. Stream flows and water levels are dropping. The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is reporting the Rideau River in eastern Ontario is flowing at only 15 percent of normal for this time of year. Fire conditions remain elevated across southern Quebec and Ontario. Several grass fires were reported in Eastern Ontario last week. Even with rain in the forecast early next week, conditions are expected to remain excessively dry. Vegetation is beginning to show signs of drought as well. Water conservation is strongly suggested in eastern Ontario and southern Quebec, but has not been formally ordered at this time.

WEST VIRGINIA FLOODING
The high pressure giving Montreal our beautiful weather, has deflected a potent area of showers and thunderstorms south of the Great Lakes into the Ohio Valley. Violent weather with tornadoes and powerful thunderstorms swept across portions of Illinois and Indiana, into the central Appalachians Thursday and Friday. In West Virginia, three month`s worth of rain fell in just a few hours. Some locations in the state received over 250mm (10 inches) of rain. Widespread, severe flash flooding occurred with swollen rives and creeks washing away homes and cars. This is the worst flooding in over a century in that state, with reports of at least 23 fatalities. Over 500,000 utility customers were without power at the height of the storms. The West Virginia National Guard has been deployed, with numerous water rescues and evacuations required. The rain has stopped for the time being, with water levels slowly receding. This has allowed the clean-up to begin, and the search for more victims to continue.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Record warmth for Montreal

Hydro Quebec is currently restoring power to more than 200,000 customers, down from 300,000 last evening. The utility said most of the outages were caused by trees making contact with lines and a few others by lightning. (Hydro Quebec Photo)
The sweltering heat of Monday has been replaced by natural air conditioning this morning, as temperatures have settled back into the high teens in Quebec. Montreal at 7:00 am was 19C (66F), after a record high of 32.9C (91F) on Monday afternoon. Numerous other record-high temperatures were tied or broken from Ontario to Newfoundland. The cooler weather this morning is thanks to a cold front that moved across Ontario and Quebec last evening. The front generated widespread severe thunderstorms. The fast-moving line of storms produced hail, wind gusts to 90km/h, as well as some tornadic rotation. Tornado warnings were issued by Environment Canada around 7:00 pm for portions of eastern Ontario, including Ottawa. No tornadoes were observed.

The storms skipped my location here on L'Ile Perrot, moving just to the north. We had several hours of vivid lightning, but no rain. Strong winds produced by the storms cut power to nearly 300,000 Hydro Quebec customers, most of those in the Quebec City region. Power outages were also reported in Ontario, New York and Vermont. A number of trees and branches were down as well, several on cars and homes in both Ontario and Quebec. All this on the first official day of summer.

Record warmth provided the fuel for late afternoon and evening thunderstorms in Ontario and Quebec. (Valley Weather Photo)
The cooler and less humid air mass will be with us for a couple of days here in Montreal, before temperatures begin to climb again into the upcoming long weekend. Highs today through Thursday will be around 24C (76F), with pleasant lows near 15C (59F). There is a risk of some showers late today and again Wednesday. By the weekend, Montreal can expect an increase in humidity, along with highs nearing 30C (86F) once again.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer arrives today, with heat and thunderstorms

The annual car show in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue benefited from spectacular weather on Saturday. Huge crowds viewed hundreds of classic cars. Sunshine with near record high temperatures occurred all weekend across southern Quebec.
(Valley Weather Photo)

It is a hot morning across southern Quebec and Ontario on this last day of spring, first day of summer. The solstice, accompanied by a full strawberry moon, occurs today, with summer officially arriving at 6:34 pm. Today will feature almost 16 hours of daylight. We also have very active weather expected today, as a strong cold front pierces through the heat and humidity. We started very warm this morning, 9am temperatures were already pushing 27C (80F) around the region. Highs should settle into the 32C (90F) range, with humidex values approaching 40C (104F) this afternoon. Montreal has an outside shot at the record high for the date, 32.7C (91F) set in 2012. Environment Canada has posted a heat advisory for much of eastern Ontario and southwest Quebec, including metro Montreal.

Gusty southwest winds will be a factor today. Winds are already increasing this morning, with forecast speeds up to 60km/h expected this afternoon, and 80km/h this evening. In addition to the wind, we can expect thunderstorms to develop along a potent cold front after 5pm in Montreal. Some of the storms may become severe, with strong damaging winds and possibly hail. Once the front clears the St. Lawrence Valley overnight, we can expect cooler weather, with lows dropping to 18C (65F), and highs near 23C (73F) on Tuesday, under partly cloudy skies.

Searing heat in the southwestern US has lead to widespread brush fires in Arizona and California, along with multiple weather-related fatalities. (AP Photo)
SOUTHWEST US HEATWAVE
While Montreal basked in near-perfect summer weather over the weekend, strong thunderstorms occurred over western Canada. Several tornadoes were reported in Saskatchewan, with minor damage but no injuries. Searing heat impacted the southwest US, with high temperatures in Phoenix and Las Vegas rising into the middle 40's. Phoenix recorded that city's 5th all-time warmest temperature on Saturday, establishing a new record high at 47C (118F). Four deaths were blamed on the heat, along with widespread wildfires.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Warm, dry weather increases fire risk in Quebec

According to SOPFEU, extreme fire conditions (in red) cover most of the province of Quebec. A fire ban has been put in place for those regions, and may be extended south into Montreal and extreme southwest Quebec (yellow).
Southern Quebec is into a prolonged stretch of warm and dry weather, after a cool start to June. Temperatures across the southern portion of the province have been in the high 20s and are expected to rise into the low 30s this weekend. With low humidity forecast, the forest fire risk in on the rise. According to SOPFEU, the provincial forest fire-fighting agency, two thirds of Quebec, excluding Montreal and the US border regions at this time, is under extreme fire conditions. SOPFEU announced earlier Friday that all outdoor burning is prohibited, including campfires, until further notice.

The burn ban could likely be extended to Montreal this weekend. Rainfall has been sparse this spring, with only half the normal precipitation since May 1st. Montreal has recorded 46.4mm of rain to date for June, but 32mm of that occurred on one day.

Strong high pressure continues to dominate the weather in Montreal, with sunshine, warm days and cool nights. High temperatures will range from 29C to 32C  (80-85F) this weekend. Overnight lows will be seasonable, down to 13C to 15C (55-60F). No precipitation is expected at this time. Monday will be sunny and hot, with an increase in southerly winds driving up the humidity. A cold front arrives late in the day, with showers and thunderstorms overnight into Tuesday. Expect sunshine and seasonable weather to return by Wednesday.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lightning 101

A late afternoon lightning strike in Kemptville, Ontario. (ValleyWeather Photo)
June 13 -19 is lightning safety week in Canada.

Summer weather means heat and humidity in Montreal, and along with that comes the ever-present risk of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms produce a variety of nasty by-products including hail, high winds, flooding and even tornadoes. However one of the biggest killers during thunderstorms in North America is lightning. On average, a lighting strike occurs every three seconds in Canada during the summer months of June trough August. At any given second, lightning is striking the earth somewhere. Nearly 2000 thunderstorms are active around the earth every minute! Lightning is responsible for numerous deaths and injuries, and significant damage to homes, electrical devices and power grids. Nearly 45 percent of forest fires in Canada are started by lightning.

You should know that there is no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm; your best defence is to get inside. While your chances of being struck by lightning are statistically slim, in an average year, ten Canadians pay the ultimate price for taking the gamble. Another 150 to 160 are injured, some with injuries that will have lifelong repercussions. The average bolt of lightning contains 300 million volts, enough energy to light a 100-watt incandescent light bulb for about three months. The air displaced by lightning is heated to nearly 28,000C (50,000F), a temperature five times that of the sun and hot enough to melt car tires and burn skin. If you are stuck outside, get as low as you can, make yourself as small as possible.

One of the myths about lightning is that it never strikes the same place twice. The Empire State building in New York City is struck an average of over 100 times each year. Likewise, the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario is struck several times each year. Lightning likes tall objects. Stay away from trees. Most thunderstorm-related deaths across North America are from those who seek shelter under a tree during a thunderstorm. It is one of the worst places
you can put yourself, another being anywhere on or near water. Head ashore as soon as threatening weather approaches. You should always know the risk of thunderstorms when boating or at the beach. Keep a weatheradio with you at all times. They are inexpensive and could be a lifesaver.  Alternately, you can download one of the weather apps for your smartphone. Environment Canada monitors lightning strikes across Canada, and displays the information at http://weather.gc.ca/lightning/ updated every 10 minutes. Know the risks, plan and prepare to take shelter. This is especially true during outdoor events including baseball, soccer and concerts.

Lightning can strike more than 5km from the parent storm, so as soon as you hear thunder, head indoors. Refrain from outdoor activities such as swimming, soccer or golfing for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder occurs. A recent study by Environment Canada indicated that as little as 3-5% of individuals injured or killed by lightning in Canada are victims of a direct hit. Most hits occur by ground current (40-50%) or side flash (20-30%). That is why it is so important to refrain from using electrical appliances such as phones or computers that are hardwired directly to your home. Cordless items are fine to use.

You are relatively safe inside a car. However, if a car is directly hit, significant damage, including fire and blown out windows can occur. Another popular myth is that people struck by lightning can’t be touched. A person struck by lightning is safe to handle immediately after the hit. They may need CPR or other medical attention. You should call 911 without delay.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Showers for the Grand Prix weekend in Montreal

Rain in 2011 made for a very exciting Canadian Grand Prix, if you were watching from the comfort of your couch. It will be showery and cool at the drop of the green flag this year, but it should not be a washout.
The Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix is this weekend at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. Tens of thousands of race fans and team members will pour into the city for the annual event, all hoping for good weather. There is some good news and bad news for the upcoming race weekend.

Thursday morning, deep low pressure, along with the remains of tropical storm Colin, continues to pull away to the northeast out into the Atlantic. The broad circulation around these features will continue to pull down unseasonably cold and unstable air into southern Quebec and New England. The result is an October-like morning in Montreal, with a low temperature of 8C (48F) along with gusty northwest winds. The weather will remain cloudy and cool today, with gusty unpleasant winds up to 60km/h and occasional showers. The temperature will struggle to reach 16C (60F). At present, Friday looks much better, as the aforementioned low releases its grip and high pressure arrives from the Great Lakes. Sunshine will prevail and the mercury will respond, rising into the middle 20's (24C/75F). So far Saturday looks decent in the morning, before clouds and perhaps some showers and thunderstorms arrive for the afternoon, as yet another cold front moves in. The high will be 21C (70F). The front will leave behind a cool and blustery race day Sunday in Montreal. Expect mostly cloudy conditions, some showers, and temperatures well below normal at 16C (60F). If the rain stays away, the cooler weather will actually be better for race fans and drivers alike.

A veiled view of Mount Washington in New Hampshire this morning showing a wintry landscape in June. (MWOBS via Twitter)
JUNE SNOW
How cold is it this morning across our region? The current temperature is only 4C (39F) in St Agathe, north of Montreal, with most other locations in the 6C to 10C (43 to 50F) range. On the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the current temperature is -4C (25F), along with snow and sleet and a northwest wind of 122km/h gusting to 135km/h (76mph gusts to 84mph). The windchill is -17C (1F). It certainly does not feel like June!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Cool wet week ahead for southern Quebec

A deluge of rain fell quickly on Sunday, with 25 to 50mm (1 to 2 inches) occurring in eastern Ontario (Cornwall shown above), as well as southern Quebec and New England. Most of the rain fell between 11am and midnight.
More rain fell in the last 24 hours in southern Quebec than in the entire month of May. The rain was desperately needed, as most regions were well below normal, with some areas reporting less than 50 percent of the normal precipitation this spring. At Trudeau Airport, 32mm of rain fell, with close to 30mm here on L'Ile Perrot. The rain was quite heavy at times and accompanied by thunder and lightning, especially overnight. In Ottawa, and across eastern Ontario, the weather was much the same, with 36.4mm falling in the nation's capital in less than 12 hours. Ottawa had only received 26.2mm of rain in May. Unfortunately, the rain fell on a busy summer weekend, which included a soggy Tour de L'Ile here in Montreal. The 20,000 cyclists started off the 65 to 100km route in cloudy but dry weather. That quickly changed by mid-morning, as heavy rain arrived from the southwest. The event still concluded as scheduled, with no incidents reported.

This morning, Montreal is mild but damp, with lots of moisture left over. Some sunshine today will help to generate afternoon clouds and perhaps a shower or thunderstorm. Temperatures will be mild, near 24C (76F). Tuesday through Thursday will be quite unsettled, with plenty of clouds and showers, along with much cooler temperatures. After the low 20's on Tuesday, Montreal will only reach 15C (59F) Wednesday and Thursday, before temperatures slowly moderate late in the week. If you don't like the heat, then enjoy this respite from the hot weather, as we expect it to return by the third week of June.

TROPICAL STORM COLIN
The third tropical system of this young 2016 season formed late Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical storm Colin was located 580 km (360 miles) west southwest of Tampa, Florida at 5am, with 85 km/h (50 mph) winds. The storm will rapidly move northeast today and reach the coast of Florida, in the Big Bend region, by Monday evening. The biggest threat from Colin will be torrential rains falling on the saturated southeast US. Flooding is likely, especially across the coastal Carolina's, which were impacted by Bonnie last week.