Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer is not over just yet - Hurricane Camille

While walking the dog these past few mornings, it has felt like late September. The air has been cold, the dew heavy and there are even some trees starting to turn color and dare I say a few leaves tumbling to the ground. For those of us that love the hot summer weather, it has been a little disappointing in 2014, August especially. But don't give up just yet, the pattern is about to change for the last days of August. High pressure will give us sunshine today and warm highs of 27C (81F) in Montreal. This will be followed by showers and thunderstorms as early as this evening and lasting into Friday. The low responsible for the precipitation will move from the Great Lakes to off the east coast by Friday. High pressure will then build in again over Quebec for the weekend with sunshine and warm highs near 26C (79F). This weather will last well into next week with highs in the upper 20's. Indications are that the warm and dry weather will last most of next week with above normal temperatures expected through the end of the month for large regions of Quebec, Ontario and western New England.

The devastation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was complete after the passage of Hurricane Camille in August 1969. (NOAA)
It has been a quiet Atlantic hurricane season so far in 2014 with only 2 named storms, Arthur and Bertha. August can be quiet but it has also produced some very memorable and historically significant storms. On August 19, 1969, 45 years ago, hurricane Camille laid waste to the Mississippi Coast. The small but powerful storm is one of only three Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall on the US mainland. The storm pounded the Gulf Coast from Florida to Louisiana with 200mph winds and a then record storm surge of over 25 feet. Radar and forecasting techniques were not at the level they are today and many refused to leave there homes, some just blocks from the Gulf. The surge, arriving in the dark, wiped away entire towns during the overnight hours of August 19-20, killing over 200 people, some were never found to this day. It took decades for the economy of the region to return to what it was before Camille with damages exceeding $1.42 Billion 1969 dollars. Just two days later Camille would dump an astonishing 2 feet (over 600mm) of rain in just a few hours on northern Virginia, liquefying hillsides and washing away entire communities in water and mud. Another 120 plus people would die as a result of the flash flooding in Virginia.

During my entire life I have had a fascination with hurricanes, and Camille has always been the storm people refer to when describing just how intense and devastating hurricanes can be. She had set the bar, that is of course until Katrina in August 2005. Katrina, with a 35 foot storm surge, would kill over 1800 people, devastating the same region as Camille did but this time including metro New Orleans.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Much better weather week ahead Ontario & Quebec

Dark clouds, light rain, windy and cool with even a hint of color in the trees across the Eastern Townships this past weekend. (ValleyWX Photo)
After days of low clouds and showers we finally had a little break mid-day Sunday in the form of sunshine. Temperatures remain very chilly for August, but we did manage 23C (73F) on Sunday here in Montreal. The entire northeast as well as eastern Canada has been under the influence of a slow moving upper level low. The system produced lots of rain, very cool temperatures being dragged down to the surface from the upper atmosphere, as well as persistent cloud. On Saturday another 13-15mm of rain fell in Montreal bringing the monthly total close to 75mm (3 inches) most of that falling in the  last 5 days. Saturday was also windy and very cold for August only managing 18C (65F) here on L'Ile Perrot, feeling more like late September.

The good news is high pressure will move back into Montreal and southern Quebec today with sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures. Highs will reach the low 20's (70-73F). By Tuesday and Wednesday we may even see some middle 20's (75-80F). Lows will remain cool, for August with patchy fog around especially in the hills to the southeast of the city, temperatures will drop to near 10C (50F). By late Wednesday another round of showers is possible as low pressure moves from the Great Lakes across northern New York. At this time next weekend looks good.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cold windy day for Montreal - impressive rainfall totals

Several months worth of rain fell in just a few hours Wednesday morning on Islip, Long Island, NY, producing major flooding. (AP Photo)
For the third day in a row a major metro region in North America has been pounded by heavy rain and flash flooding. An entire summer's worth of rain fell on Long Island Wednesday morning just east of metro New York City. A new all time 24 hour New York state record was set at Islip, in Suffolk County after 13.27 inches (338mm) of rain fell in under 24 hours. In a two hour stretch alone during the morning commute, 9 inches fell. The rain overwhelmed the entire sewer system flooding major highways, homes and businesses. The tropical plume of moisture stretching north from the south Atlantic waters ran into a cool, fall like air mass over New England dumping the heavy rain in narrow bands across the region. By comparison New York City had only 0.5 inches of rainfall for the same period.

Meanwhile the same low pressure area brought heavy rain to eastern Ontario and southern Quebec. Over 60mm fell in Ottawa and Kemptville, with 35.2mm here on L'Ile Perrot and officially 44.4mm at Trudeau Airport. Quebec City had 62mm but it is still raining there, and south shore St. Hubert had 37mm. The upper level low responsible for all this wet weather remains over Quebec moving slowly north. Very cool air has settled over Quebec this morning with a current temperature of only 12C (54F) here on L'Ile Perrot. It will struggle to reach 17C (63F) today for a high under cloudy skies with a few breaks but also a few showers this afternoon. The same weather for Friday before temperatures moderate a little into the weekend, but still with the threat for showers. The weekend at this time looks unsettled as that stubborn low slowly weakens over northern Quebec.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Heavy rain on the way - flash flooding in Detroit

Above and below photos show major flash flooding in metro Detroit on Interstates 75 and 94 during last evenings commute. Nearly 5 inches of rain fell in a few hours. (WXYZ News Detroit)
 A very slow moving weather system is moving across Lake Huron this morning with a wide area of rain, some of it very heavy and thunderstorms. Yesterday major flooding occurred throughout metro Detroit and neighboring Windsor after 50-125mm (2-5 inches) of rain fell is as little as two hours late in the afternoon and evening. The rain turned the entire metro Detroit freeway system into a series of canals funneling the flood water throughout the city. Flash flooding inundated homes, business and made most highways impassable trapping motorists during the evening commute. It was the same in Windsor and Essex County, Ontario where 40-70mm (2-3 inches) of rain fell between 6 and 8pm. The water washed out streets and flooded basements.

In Montreal we managed 30C (86F) on Monday at Trudeau Airport, I had 32C (90F) at my home on L'Ile Perrot under bright sunshine. The weather will now change dramatically with the arrival of clouds and eventually rain and thunderstorms by evening from the aforementioned storm. The rain is spreading across central Ontario this morning and should arrive in Ottawa by midday and Montreal by evening. A special weather statement is now posted for all of southern and eastern Ontario for between 25-75mm (1-3 inches) of rain in the next 24 hours. The heaviest rain may move just north of Montreal and Environment Canada has posted warnings for the Ottawa Valley and the Laurentians for up to 70mm. Montreal can expect about 25mm of rain at this time, most of that late tonight and Wednesday. Temperatures will be slightly cooler today at 27C (81F) and much cooler for the balance of the week, either side of 20C (68F) for highs.

Monday, August 11, 2014

One last sunny - warm day for Quebec

It was a picturesque weekend in the Green Mountains of Vermont for the 57th Annual Classic Car Show in Stowe. The weather was sunny and close to 85F (30C). (ValleyWX Photo)
As they say all good things must come to an end and that will be the case with our weather as we start a new work week. It was a spectacular weekend with temperatures in the high 20's across southern Quebec and the rest of the region as well as abundant sunshine. The same will occur today with sunshine, just a cloud or two and warm high temperatures near 30C (86F). Clouds will start to increase on Tuesday as the high slides off the Atlantic seaboard, and low pressure with a frontal system moves northeast from the Great Lakes. Once this system becomes established over Quebec it will remain like an unwanted guest until the end of the week. Showers and thunderstorms will develop late Tuesday and become a steady rain by Wednesday and Thursday. Amounts may be significant with perhaps 25-50mm possible. A special weather statement has already been posted for the GTA and southwest Ontario where 20-40mm is forecast.It has been a dry month in many portions of Quebec with officially only 8.4mm at Trudeau Airport. The rain will be welcome but not three days worth of it. Temperatures will become cooler as well dropping into the high teens and low 20's through Friday. The good news is that by the weekend it should become fair once again along with a slow warming trend back into the mid 20's.

The great weather in Quebec was perfect for viewing the largest full moon of the 2014 season on Sunday night. The full sturgeon moon was called a super moon this weekend for its size and proximity to the earth. It appeared 30% larger and 14% bigger than normal. The moon is on its closest orbit to the earth, at 221,765 miles away. Russian Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev took the photo above from space.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Nothing but sunshine for Montreal

A perfect summer weekend is upon us as high pressure crests over southern Quebec. Sunny days, clear cool nights are the rule through Monday. Winds will be calm and the sky almost cloud free with high temperatures ranging from 27 to 29C (80-85F) through the weekend with comfortable lows of 15-17C (59-63F). The next chance for rain will not arrive until late Tuesday as a frontal system moves into the St. Lawrence Valley. Until then enjoy the weather. I am off to Stowe, Vermont to take in the 57th Annual Antique and Classic Car Meet, one of the biggest in the region. It is hosted by the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts. As the National Weather Service office in Burlington posted this morning in the forecasters discussion, it will be Chamber of Commerce weather this weekend.

Radar image of tropical storm Isele crossing the coast of the Big Island, Hilo, this morning. The yellow storm above is the forecast track of Hurricane Julio by late in the weekend. (Weather Underground)
Tropical Storm Isele in Hawaii
The tropical Pacific Ocean is rather active this week. The big island of Hilo in the Hawaiian Islands was pounded overnight by Tropical Storm Isele. The system is crossing the island this morning with winds close to 100km/h with higher gusts and very heavy rain up to 10 inches (250mm). Trees are down and power is out to over 24,000 homes on Hilo. But so far the damage has been light, confined to coastal regions. Hilo has never been hit by a land falling hurricane and not this time either as Isele weakened below hurricane status late last night. Isele has 60mph winds this morning and is located about 45 miles (80km) south of the city of Hilo. The storm will continue a slow westward march across the islands today at 7mph (11km/h).

Meanwhile Hurricane Julio with 120mph winds is located about 970miles east of The Big Island, Hilo moving west at 16mph (26km/h). The storm is forecast to brush the northern Hawaiian Islands by the end of the weekend. While Julio is a category 3 storm this morning, it is forecast to weaken over the weekend. It has been 22 years since Hawaii has had a direct hit from a major hurricane. This is rather historic to have two systems affect them in rapid succession.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Storms miss Montreal...again

Photo of what looks like a small funnel cloud late Tuesday afternoon near Beloil, on the south shore of Montreal. (Photo Kevin Avila via Quebec Vortex)
In a theme that has played out for most of this summer, thunderstorms that developed Tuesday afternoon, skirted the city of Montreal. I have not done a tally but I assure you it is no greater than 5 thunderstorms that I have seen across L'Ile Perrot this summer. Some other regions of the province, in Ontario and across northern New England have seen that in one weekend. Call it luck, good or bad depending on how you feel about thunderstorms, (I happen to like them) but that has been the reality this summer. The few showers that did dot the city yesterday afternoon produced a couple of paltry millimeteres of rain (1.6mm to be exact at Trudeau Airport, just a trace on L'Ile Perrot) and a rumble or two of thunder across the south shore. One late afternoon storm did produce somewhat of a funnel cloud near Beloil in the Monteregie, captured above. Big storms did occur once again Tuesday across eastern New York into Vermont. Pea to quarter size hail was reported south of Burlington at several locations along with heavy rain and in one report a downed tree.

Today will be much quieter across the entire NY/QC/ON region with sunshine, perhaps a few clouds and highs near 25C (77F). Increasing clouds tonight with lows near 15C (59F). On Thursday partly sunny, warmer and more humid with showers and thunderstorms developing after lunch and a high near 26C (79F). The balance of the week into the weekend looks sunny, warm (29C) and dry at this time.