Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Very slow relief from the bitter cold is on the way

Above & Below: Just how cold has it been? Enough to partially freeze over the mighty Niagara Falls.
  It was another cold morning in Montreal on Tuesday, the coldest February 24 since 1972. The temperature dropped to -24.8C (-13F) at Trudeau Airport, shattering the previous record of -21.7C (-8F). It was even colder in rural areas with -27C (-17F) on L'Ile Perrot, the second coldest morning of this winter and the third coldest since I moved here in 2009. Other records were set at St. Anicet -30C (-24, 2005), Kemptville, Ontario at -27.3C (-25, 1934) and Ottawa at -26.8C (-20.9, 1989). The core of this batch of cold air will move east tonight as a very weak area of low pressure slides across southern Quebec. Moisture is very limited with this system so don't expect much in the way of snowfall, perhaps 1-3cm across the region. Winds will become gusty again Wednesday afternoon, up to 50km/h, creating areas of blowing and drifting snow.

I may have been a little too excited this morning in my claim that Montreal would not see anymore minus 20 degree mornings. In fact the cold front that crosses the region tomorrow night will introduce a reinforcing shot of cold air. With clear skies tomorrow and again Thursday and Friday we may indeed dip just below -20C in some parts of southern Quebec. The good news is we are looking at a general warming trend into the weekend and next week. It won't become tropical, but temperatures will get closer to the normal high and low of -2C and -11C respectively. What I do however see for March is snow, and perhaps lots of it. Montreal has really managed to avoid a major snowstorm this year with a generous 20cm recorded on two occasions. That may change as we head into March and the storm track begins to originate more from the Gulf of Mexico and travels a little further north along the jet stream. Time will tell, but that is what the crystal ball is showing right now.

Incidentally the Great Lakes have more ice cover than last year at this time. Just over 84% of the lake area is covered with ice, way ahead of last year which was 67% at this time. In 40 years of record keeping, the maximum recorded ice was in the cold winter of 1979 with 97%. Last year the maximum of 92.5% was reached in March. Even the mighty Niagara Falls has been slowed somewhat as large portions of it are frozen over. The ice cover will likely have an impact on our spring, just as it did last year.

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