Monday, May 30, 2016

Record warmth in Ontario and Quebec plus tropical storm Bonnie

After the record warmth, strong thunderstorms moved across northwest Vermont on Sunday. (WCAX TV)
It is Memorial Day south of the border on this Monday, typically the "official/unofficial" start of summer. The weekend featured weather extremes across eastern and central North America, with searing heat, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, and even a tropical storm for good measure. Record warmth surged into the Great Lakes and Quebec with dozens of new record highs established. Notables included Montreal, 31.7C (89F) on Friday, surpassing the record of 30.4C (86F) from 1978. Montreal managed 28C (83F) both Saturday and Sunday, with a slight northeast breeze keeping us a little cooler. On Sunday, Ottawa reached 33.2C (91F), breaking the old record of 31.4C from 1978. It was so hot in Burlington, Vermont on Sunday, organizers were forced to call off the Vermont City Marathon after runners were already on the course, four hours into the event. It was the first cancellation in the marathon's 28 year history. Several participants were treated for heat-related issues. However, many refused to stop and completed the event.

In the late afternoon, strong thunderstorms developed over eastern New York and impacted the northern Champlain Valley as far north as extreme southern Quebec. Wind damage and flooding was reported in St. Albans, Vermont. Only a few rumbles of thunder and less than 2mm of rain occurred in Montreal. We are very dry, with only a paltry 32mm of rain for the month of May in and around Montreal.

Tropical storm Bonnie produced heavy rain across coastal South Carolina on Sunday.
Also this weekend, tropical storm Bonnie developed off the Florida coast and moved northwest into South Carolina. The storm produced widespread heavy rain and flooding in coastal North and South Carolina. Bonnie has since been downgraded to a depression and is located 60 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach Monday morning. Maximum winds were around 30mph. The biggest threat from Bonnie this week will be rough surf, and up to 3 inches (75mm) of additional rainfall from North Carolina into the middle Atlantic sates.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Summer weather continues in Ontario and Quebec

Warm and humid weather will develop late today and continue into the weekend in Montreal. (AccuWeather)
After a dismal April and start to May in Montreal and most of eastern Canada, the weather is beginning to improve. Sunshine will prevail in Montreal today with a warm high of 26C (79F). A warm front to our southwest will push into the St. Lawrence Valley Friday, with breezy and very warm weather. Temperatures will reach 30C (86F) across a wide area of southern and eastern Ontario and southern Quebec. Along with the warmth will be an increase in humidity and the possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Those conditions will prevail Saturday as well and perhaps into Sunday.

Rain is needed here in Montreal. The city has only recorded 31mm of rainfall this month, while the normal should be 81.2mm. Most of that precipitation fell in the first 15 days of May, with only a trace since. Outdoor conditions remain very dry in Quebec forests, and burning is not advised. The same is true for eastern Ontario, where several watersheds are reporting minor drought conditions.

AccuWeather storm chaser, Brandon Sullivan, captures a spectacular shot of one of the many tornadoes that formed near Dodge City, Kansas on Tuesday, May 24.
Increased heat and humidity created perfect conditions for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. The central and southern US plains reported dozens of them on Tuesday and Wednesday, including several large wedge tornadoes in Kansas. Widespread damage occurred, with at least one fatality.

Tropical Storm Bonnie?
The tropical Atlantic is coming to life as well, with the potential development of a low pressure east of Florida. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are watching an area of disturbed weather a few hundred miles northeast of the Bahamas. If the system continues to develop, it could become a tropical storm by this busy Memorial Day Weekend. The storm has the potential to impact parts of the southeast and middle Atlantic US into the weekend. Hurricane season typical runs from June 1 to November 30. I was reminded yesterday, by meteorologist Steve Glazier with WPEC in Florida, that this would be the second storm of the year, Bonnie. I had forgotten about the very rare tropical storm Alex, that formed back on January 14 near the Azores. Yet another unusual weather occurrence this year.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Warm forecast for Montreal

While Montreal enjoyed a spectacular long weekend, snow fell across southern Alberta including Calgary, shown above.
A warm, southerly flow of air continues to impact southern Quebec with above-normal temperatures. This past holiday weekend, the temperature was warmer in Montreal than most of the US east coast. High pressure will continue to provide sunshine and warm temperatures today, with a high near 29C (85F). Temperatures will remain mild tonight, dropping only to 17C (63F) under fair skies.

The balance of the week will feature a storm system moving along the US east coast, with much cooler air and showers in place to our east. A backdoor cold front will become established southeast of Montreal, with showers and thunderstorms developing along it. The weather will remain very warm west of the front and much cooler to the east. The humidity will increase as the week moves along. I believe Montreal will remain on the warm side of the front, with temperatures above normal. Highs will reach into the upper 20's (low 80's) and low temperatures will remain in the teens (low 60's).

With the extended period of warm and dry weather here, outdoor burning should be avoided. The fire risk for most of southern Quebec is elevated at this time. Currently, there are six active fires in the province. The year to date has seen 187 fires, above the ten year average of 176. The good news is that the fires have been managed, and the total amount of hectares burned is down.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Summer warmth on the way

Much warmer air will surge into the St. Lawrence Valley this week, with highs reaching the upper 20's.
I'm back! After taking a week break in coastal New England and Boston, it is back to the daily grind. What a weather week we had across North America as the bizarre spring of 2016 continues to unfold. I was in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, where the week started off and ended sunny and warm. In between, the weather seemed to change every five minutes. Such was the case across southern Quebec and Ontario as well, as extremely cold air swept across the region last Sunday and into the middle part of the work week. Snow fell across large portions of Quebec, including scattered flurries in Montreal early Monday morning, May 16.

The good news is we appear to have turned a corner. Indications are that a major pattern shift is underway that will lead to summer-like warmth to end the month. We are already seeing warmer weather this weekend, with high temperatures either side of 25C (77F). The only twist in the forecast this weekend so far, is coastal low pressure near Cape Cod. It has produced more clouds than sun for Sunday here in the St. Lawrence Valley, along with the outside chance of a shower or thunderstorm. The start of this upcoming week in Montreal will be sunny and warm. Conditions will become more humid by Wednesday, with perhaps some showers or thunderstorms. Temperatures will remain above the normal of 21C (70F) all week. A nice change from spring so far.

Friday, May 13, 2016

One last cold weekend of the season for Montreal

WINTER JUST WON'T LEAVE: A late season snow fell across the foothills of the Rockies in southern Alberta on Friday.(CBC Calgary)
The weather roller coaster we have been on over the last month here in Montreal, will take one more dip this weekend before mild air returns. The warm air of Thursday was replaced by clouds and showers Friday, as a cold front swept across southern Quebec. An upper level low pressure system, spinning north of the Great Lakes, will send another stronger cold front across the region Saturday. Temperatures will cool down rapidly behind the front Saturday night, and only rise to 7C (45F) on Sunday, about 12 degrees below normal. The front will be accompanied by showers and thunderstorms and then followed by gusty and cold northwest winds. The good news is that the cold air will be around for less than 48 hours before a warming trend begins Tuesday. Milder air will return over the course of the upcoming week and remain in place for the first official long weekend of the summer.

The cold air has prompted frost warnings across a large portion of the upper Midwest into central Ontario. Snow is even in the forecast for far northern Ontario and northwestern Quebec, close to Hudson Bay. The cold air may even produce some flurries across the highest elevations of southern Quebec and northern New England by Sunday morning.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Montreal's warmest day yet in 2016 forecast for Thursday

POOR TIMING: The warmest day of the year in Montreal on Thursday, will be followed by more cool, showery weather for the weekend. (AccuWeather image)
Thursday will be the warmest day of 2016 to date. Granted, the bar has not been set very high, but we are looking at sunshine and likely our first 27C (80F) day, of the year. We start off this Thursday much warmer than it has been this week, already at 12C (54F) here on L'Ile Perrot. High pressure will dominate the day with light winds and bright sunshine.

That is the good news, and I should probably stop now. As I have mentioned before, spring is a highly changeable time of year. And 2016 has been an especially good example. In the last week, snow has fallen across the lower North Shore, while searing heat and intense wildfires have swept portions of western Canada. Now, heavy snow is forecast in Alberta, with snowfall warnings in place for the foothills west of Calgary towards Banff. In addition, strong thunderstorms have produced major flooding and multiple tornadoes over the central and southern US. Dozens of tornadoes occurred in the Monday-through-Wednesday time frame, with fatalities and injuries.

That brings us back to Montreal and southern Quebec. After the warmth of today, a series of cold fronts will impact the region Friday into Saturday. Showers and perhaps some thunderstorms can be expected, before much colder and windy weather arrives on Sunday. Temperatures by Sunday will struggle to reach 10C (50F), with overnight lows near the freezing point by Monday morning in southern Quebec and Ontario. Temperatures will slowly moderate next week, with a much warmer Victoria Day weekend expected at this time.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Cool start - bright week ahead for Montreal

Spectacular footage of a tornado taken by storm chaser Reed Timmer, near Wray, Colorado over the weekend. This is all part of a spring weather pattern that has produced cold weather here in Montreal, as well as snow, record heat, intense wild fires and flooding rains elsewhere.
It was a Jekyll and Hyde weekend in Montreal, with a nearly perfect Saturday followed by a cold and windy Sunday. Saturday was easily the warmest day of 2016, with bright sunshine and temperatures pushing 24C (76F) in many areas of southern Quebec. A strong cold front arrived in the wee hours of Sunday morning, accompanied by a wind shift and rapidly dropping temperatures. High temperatures on Sunday struggled to reach 10C (50F), with most locations remaining in the single digits. Light rain and gusty northwest winds added to the dismal day. This morning it is downright cold for May, with a current reading at 1C (34F). A few flurries have even been reported in the Eastern Townships and the Green Mountains. On Sunday, snow fell across portions of the lower St. Lawrence, with up to 15cm reported in the Saguenay region.

We can expect one more cold day and night here in Montreal before temperatures moderate for the balance of this week. Today will be partly cloudy, with a few afternoon showers and a high near 10C (50F). Overnight will be clear and cold ,with lows dangerously close to the freezing point. Frost advisories, already in effect in Vermont and northern New York, may be required for southern Quebec. Tuesday through Thursday will be sunny and much warmer, with highs near 20C (68F). Unfortunately, it looks like clouds and showers may return for next weekend.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Cool wet weather continues in eastern Canada

Cool and wet weather will persist in eastern North America through mid-May.
A rather large swing in the jet stream is producing below-normal temperatures, along with damp weather here in southern Quebec and most of eastern Canada. The dismal weather is making for a very slow start to spring here in Montreal. April 2016 was the third coldest on record since 1900, only behind 1926 and 1947. We can expect some very slow changes over the next week or so, with milder temperatures by the end of next week. In the short-term, look for a decent Friday and Saturday, with sunshine and milder highs near 19C (66F). The problem will be a persistent northeast wind of 20-40km/h that will make it feel cooler. Sadly, Mother's Day Sunday looks rainy, windy and cool, with a high of only 12C (54F).

A surreal scene Thursday in the Fort McMurray suburb of Beacon Hill, after wildfires destroyed 80 percent of the neighbourhood. You can help at (Radio Canada)

Fort McMurray Fire
The same weather setup producing our cool weather, is pumping very warm and dry air into western Canada, leading in part to the perfect fire weather in northern Alberta. The Fort McMurray wildfire has now scorched over 9000 acres, making it one of the biggest in recent memory. The fire remains out of control, despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters and help pouring in from across the country. The City of Montreal has donated $100,000 dollars to the relief efforts. The Province of Quebec has sent four water bombers along with eight pilots and four mechanics. Over 2000 structures have been damaged or destroyed, and over 80,000 residents remain evacuated. Sadly two fatalities occurred during the evacuation. There is some hope that cooler weather and perhaps some showers will arrive over the weekend and into early next week. This will be welcome relief from the 30 to 35C record heat that has been occurring from northern Alberta into Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba. On Thursday, Winnipeg recorded a record high of 34.9C.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Massive wildfire sweeps into Fort McMurray, Alberta

Some of the nearly 80,000 residents evacuated from Fort McMurray, Alberta, had to drive in horrific conditions along Highway 63 on Tuesday. (Photo via Twitter Global News)
Those of us who follow the weather knew the potential was there for a dangerous wildfire season in Canada. With a warm and dry winter in many locations, lots of tinder-dry fuel was present. However, I did not expect it to start with such ferocity and in early May. One of the largest evacuations in Alberta's history was frantically underway on Tuesday, as a massive wildfire swept towards Fort McMurray, 435 km northeast of Edmonton. The fire grew rapidly, in record heat and extreme low relative humidity, to over 6000 acres in less than 24 hours. On Wednesday morning, the fire was heading into downtown Fort McMurray. Numerous businesses and homes have already been lost, as more than 250 firefighters try to battle the enormous blaze. Resources are pouring in from across the country including those from the Canadian Military and Royal Canadian Air Force.

A Super 8 Motel near Fort McMurray, Alberta burns on Tuesday as an extreme wildfire swept into the city. (Photo via Twitter #YMMFIRE)

Weather conditions were perfect for the fire to spread, with a record high of 32.6C (90F) observed on Tuesday. The normal high should be 16C (61F). More record heat is forecast for Wednesday, with increasing winds along an advancing cold front. Unfortunately, with the very low relative humidity, these are ideal burning conditions. On Tuesday, the humidity was as low as 10 per cent. There are fears that large portions of the community may be lost today. Weather conditions will be cooler by Thursday.

In southern Quebec, there are currently no active fires, but the threat remains high north and east of Montreal according to SOPFEU (Société de protection des forêts contre le feu).

Monday, May 02, 2016

Cool, wet start to May in Ontario and Quebec

Multiple low-pressure areas will bring the threat of rain to southern Quebec this week. Temperatures will slowly warm up to normal values. The rain is needed, as conditions have been exceptionally dry with several grass and brush fires being reported in Quebec and New England. The rain has lowered the threat in southern Quebec, but it remains elevated in the Gaspé region.
Despite the arrival of May, it still feels like early April in Montreal. Cool north or northeast winds will continue the damp trend across southern Quebec today. Close to 10mm of rain fell in the city over the last 24 hours. This morning we have cloudy skies, a short break in the rain, and a cool temperature of 7C (45F). Another round of showers is moving northeast from the Ohio Valley, and should arrive this afternoon. The high today will be cool, around 10C (50F).

The good news is we can expect a warming trend for the balance of the week, with temperatures approaching 20C by Friday. It will not be a perfect stretch of weather, with plenty of clouds and showers around. However I think it will be dry a good amount of the time, with appreciable sunny breaks. While May is starting off cool, most forecasters still agree that it will be a warm and dry summer in southern Quebec and Eastern Ontario. As I always say, time will tell.