Thursday, December 01, 2016

Welcome to the start of meteorological winter

Heavy wet snow has caused numerous accidents and power outages in Quebec City this morning. (Photo via Twitter @audebrassard)
December 1st is upon us... time to open your advent calendars, oh and prepare for winter. You would be forgiven this morning if you were not thinking about snow and cold, at least here in Montreal. The current temperature at my home on L'Ile Perrot is 8C (48F). The normal high should be 1C (33F). Heavy rain and strong winds spread across southern Quebec overnight. Some thunder and lightning was even observed across the border in Ontario. Northeast of Montreal, the rain transitions to heavy wet snow around Quebec City. Numerous power outages are being reported by Hydro Quebec. Snowfall in excess of 20cm is expected for portions of the lower St. Lawrence today.

Here in Montreal, the temperature will remain steady or slowly fall today, as strong low pressure moves from the Great Lakes into Quebec. The heaviest precipitation is east of Montreal, but scattered showers should persist for most of the day and even into Friday. Temperatures will remain above seasonal norms well into the weekend. The sun may make a brief appearance by Sunday.

December will turn much colder and snowier across most of Canada. This December will not be a repeat of the record-breaking one experienced in 2015. Arctic air is forecast to plunge into the Prairies by early next week, and then slowly spread east. Some snow and much colder weather is forecast for Montreal by next weekend.

A firestorm rages out of control in Gatlinburg, Tennessee early Wednesday morning. (Tennessee Highway Patrol)

Over the last 48 hours, very active weather has prevailed in many regions of the country. Freezing rain in Ontario and Quebec produced multiple accidents on Tuesday morning, some fatal. Heavy snow fell across portions of southwest Manitoba, southeast Saskatchewan and North Dakota. In some cases, over 30cm was reported. In the southern US Tuesday, a prolonged drought helped a wildfire spread out of control, engulfing the tourist town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee in the Smokey Mountains. The fire forced the rapid evacuation of 14,000 residents, sadly, with seven fatalities reported so far. Hundreds of structures, including a 16-storey hotel, were damaged or destroyed in the firestorm. Investigators fear the fire may have been human-caused. The misery continued on Wednesday, as a strong cold front produced heavy thunderstorms and tornadoes. The tornadoes resulted in at least three additional fatalities in the region.

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