Thursday, January 05, 2012

Alberta warmth

Calgary Herald photo of grass fires in southern Alberta yesterday.

While Montreal slowly warmed to -5C overnight it was another record warm 24 hours across western Canada. Over a dozen temperature records were broken across the three Prairie provinces yesterday including 16.4C at Maple Creek, SK smashing the old record of 11C set in 1984. Assiniboia SK was 8.3C (7.4 in 2008), Calgary 15.3C (12.2 in 1914) and Edmonton 11.7C (8.9 in 1947). Strong winds blasted the region all day gusting to 109km at Pincher Creek. The winds knocked out power, toppled trucks on area highways and fanned two big grass fires. One near Nanton, Alberta, 90km south of Calgary, required dozens of firefighters to control and destroyed several buildings. More warm weather is forecast today with only a slight cool down into the weekend.

The warm air is part of a rapid west to east zonal flow that has kept the threat of major storms down across most of North America. As a result of this weather pattern, Montreal has periodic light precipitation and frequent temperature fluctuations. Such was the case over the last 24 hours as the mercury rose from lows on Wednesday morning of -20C here in the city up to -4C overnight and finally leveling off at -7C this morning. Light snow, no more than 1 or 2cm fell overnight, just enough to make roads slick. A second cold front will generate a few snow flurries today followed by some clearing and steady temperatures around -5C. Another clipper system will affect the province on Friday with up to 5cm of snow and warming temperatures to near freezing. It will warm more on Saturday with temperatures above 0C and light snow or even rain.

The only region that reported any major stormy weather this week was Newfoundland where a coastal low dumped up to 40cm of snow on the province with winds gusting over 100km per hour and a peak Wreckhouse wind of 135km per hour on Wednesday.

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