Saturday, December 26, 2015

Winter returns to southern Quebec and Ontario

Strong winds blew over this bus shelter in Verdun on Christmas Eve. Damage was reported across the island of Montreal and into Laval along with numerous power outages. (Photo Megan Branton)
Today will mark the 26th consecutive day with temperatures above the freezing point in Montreal, and we are likely about to record our warmest December on record. On Christmas Eve, the temperature reached 17C (63F) in Montreal, crushing the previous record of 8.3C set in 1957. It was just 1 degree below the warmest December day ever in Montreal, 18C (65F) set on December 6, 2001. It was as warm as 21C (70F) in St. Anicet and Lancaster southwest of Montreal. Along with the warmth came winds in excess of 90km/h. The winds cut power to over 150,000 homes in southern Quebec, and some still have not had their electricity restored. The gusty winds also toppled trees and knocked over carports and bus shelters. Portions of several downtown streets were closed after debris came off buildings.

Our attention now turns to the inevitable return of winter. We have two systems that will affect us this week with snow and freezing rain. If you have travel plans, you need to be prepared for winter weather in Ontario and Quebec this week. After a sunny Boxing Day, clouds will be on the increase tonight. A warm front and low pressure system will push clouds and snow into Montreal after midnight. We can expect a good 5-10cm of snow before in mixes with freezing rain by Sunday morning. A freezing rain warning has been posted for eastern Ontario including Ottawa. Travel will be poor tonight and early Sunday across the entire region. Temperatures will be near the freezing point today into Sunday. On Monday high pressure will briefly clear out the region along with the coldest air of the month, a low near -12C (10F) and a high near -9C (15F).

By late Monday and Tuesday, a more complex and stronger system will affect Ontario, Quebec and New England with our first real winter storm of the season. Right now we can expect 10-20cm (4 to 8 inches) of snow, mixed with sleet and freezing rain along the US border. The snow would start after midnight Monday and last well into Tuesday. I will provide more details on this storm in later posts.

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