Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Record breaking Prairie windstorm - more warm weather for Montreal

The first frost of the season occurred on L'Ile Perrot early Tuesday morning. Our weather will turn unseasonably warm once again as we head into the upcoming weekend. (ValleyWeather Photo)
Another period of warm and dry weather is expected across much of southern Ontario and Quebec this week. Temperatures will go above normal in Montreal on Wednesday and remain that way right through the upcoming weekend. The average high/low for mid-October in Montreal is 3C/12C. Temperatures will be well above this, with daytime highs approaching 21C (70F) by Saturday. Overnight lows during this period will be between 7C and 13C (45 to 55F). Coming after our first official frost, which occurred on Tuesday morning, this could be considered our Indian Summer. Big changes are on the horizon for Montreal, as a potent cold front and upper level low pressure area will begin impacting our weather early next week. Showers, strong winds and much colder temperatures are expected by the end of next week, into Halloween.

Above and below: Wind speeds of up to 131km/h in Moose Jaw, 119km/h in Regina and 113km/h in Saskatoon, generated widespread damage on the prairies. (CBC Photo)
Prairie Windstorm
A fast moving low pressure and cold front swept across Alberta and Saskatchewan on Tuesday creating hurricane force wind gusts. Winds in excess of 100km/h knocked down trees and power lines, fanned grass and brush fires and took down hundreds of trees. In Alberta, the highest wind reported was at Acadia Valley at 126km/h. Meanwhile a gust to 131km/h occurred at 10pm in Moose Jaw. This was the strongest wind ever recorded in that city, the previous record was 119km/h set on October 16, 1991. The wind caused widespread damage to several homes and businesses. SaskPower reported multiple outages across the province, impacting thousands of customers.

In southwest Saskatchewan, a rapidly moving grass fire forced the evacuation of Leader, Burstall and the RM of Deerfork. Residents were allowed to return home Tuesday evening. The windy weather was being blamed for the derailment of 28 rail cars, blown off the tracks near Huxley, Alberta. The wind also blew dust and debris across the Trans-Canada Highway, making travel extremely dangerous from Calgary to Regina. In addition to the wind, 13 new record high temperatures were established in Saskatchewan on Tuesday. The strong winds have now moved east into Manitoba.


Monday, October 16, 2017

From record warmth to frost

Wind damage to homes in Mount-Laurier, north of Montreal. (Photo from Jason Campbell via CBC)
This weather this October could very well give you whiplash. A frost advisory is out for Montreal, just 24 hours after record warmth in southern Quebec. The first widespread frost of the season is likely Monday night in Montreal, with overnight lows between 0C and -2C (29 to 32F). On Sunday, strong low pressure over the Great Lakes, combined with a potent cold front to produce very strong winds and record warmth. Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue reached 24.6C (76F), eclipsing the old record of 23.3C (73F) set in 2014. Saint Clothilde near the US border was 25.7C (78F), also breaking the 2014 record of 23.8C. The warm spot in the entire country was Saint Anicet at 25.9C (79F). This morning, most locations are between 3C and 5C (37 to 41F), quite a shock to the system.

A powerful cold front is responsible for the fresh arctic air. That front generated a squall line that produced damaging winds from central and southern Ontario into southern Quebec. The hardest hit region in Quebec was the lower Laurentians, where winds knocked out power to over 10,000 homes and produced structural damage. In Mont-Laurier, 4 homes were damaged, two severely. No injuries were reported. Numerous trees were down across roads as well. In Ontario, winds gusted to 96km/h in Ottawa, 102km/h in Toronto, and 104km/h in London. Widespread damage was reported to trees and power lines. In the Montreal region, the front was less intense, with a peak wind gust to 69km/h at Sherbrooke, 67km/h at St Hubert and 61km/h at Trudeau Airport. Scattered power outages were reported in metro Montreal, with the largest in Pincourt where nearly 1000 customers were in the dark.

Hurricane Ophelia has taken a very rare path into Ireland. (NHC)

Hurricane Ophelia
Once Category 3 Hurricane Ophelia, is moving across Ireland on Monday. Winds of 176km/h (109 mph) were already observed on the small island of Fastnet Rock off the Irish coast. Towering seas and torrential rains are accompanying the rare hurricane. Ophelia has set a record as the most eastern Category 3 storm on record, another sign of our changing climate. Hurricanes rarely move into this part of the Atlantic due to the colder water temperatures. Across Ireland, schools and businesses are closed, hundreds of flights cancelled in Dublin, and power is out to over 120,000 customers. The military has been placed on standby. Storm warnings are in effect across Ireland and Scotland as well as the northern United Kingdom.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Another warm fall weekend for Montreal - changes on the way

Montreal can expect another warm weekend before much cooler air returns on Monday. (AccuWeather)
The temperature was a little closer to normal this past week in Montreal. The weather actually felt like October. This morning, I recorded 3.3C (37F) on L'Ile Perrot for the morning low. Some locations away from the city even had a light frost the last few mornings, but not here in Montreal. The average date for our first frost is October 7. However, in recent years, this has been more like October 15. It looks like a pattern change is in store over the next week or so, but not before another warm weekend in southern Quebec.

Enjoy the warm temperatures and beautiful fall foliage in Montreal this weekend. Changes are coming!
Low pressure is expected to move from Colorado, across the Great Lakes and north of Montreal on Saturday. Along the path of the storm, heavy rain is expected. Here in southern Quebec, a warm front will produce scattered showers tonight and early Saturday, before gusty southerly winds arrive and warmer temperatures. The high on Saturday will be near 20C (68F), with 22C (73F) expected Sunday. The record high for Sunday of 26.1C set in 1954, is in reach, but with expected cloud cover, it is unlikely we will get there. A cold front arrives on Sunday with showers and perhaps a thunderstorm. Much cooler air arrives for next week, with the likelihood of our first widespread frost by Tuesday morning. Morning lows will be at or just below 0C (32F) by next Tuesday.

There is plenty of cold air gathering across far northern Canada. The temperature was -22C (-8F) this morning in Mould Bay, Nunavut. It is just a matter time before pockets of this begin to impact eastern Canada. Parts of the Prairies were well below freezing this morning as well, with Regina at -10C (14F). Temperature trends in Montreal have been well above normal since the start of September. However, look for a dramatic pattern change prior to Halloween in southern Quebec. At this time, it is looking like an early start to winter during November. Now is the time to start getting ready, while the weather is good.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Strong winds cut power to 37,000 Quebec homes

Hurricane Nate rapidly moved across the central Gulf Coast late Saturday and early Sunday, cutting power, flooding coastal regions and sinking boats. Nate will produce heavy rain in southern Ontario and Quebec Thanksgiving Monday. (The Weather Channel Photo)
A gusty cold front moved across southern Quebec on Sunday morning, producing winds of up to 82km/h at Trudeau Airport in Montreal. The wind pushed tree branches onto power lines, disrupting power to over 35,000 Quebec homes and businesses. Most were located off island to the north, but as many as 3000 were without power in Montreal. Here on L'Ile Perrot, power was restored by the noon hour. The weather remained windy for the balance of the day, gusting in excess of 50km/h. The front did little to lower the warm temperatures we have been experiencing. Our record warm fall continued on Sunday, with 16 new daily record highs established in the province. Montreal reached 25C (77F), just shy of the 25.6C record from 1970.

Hurricane Nate
Hurricane Nate made landfall in Biloxi, Mississippi early Sunday morning as a Category 1 hurricane. A storm surge of up to 10 feet impacted the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast, with flooding reported in many locations. The water receded rapidly, with the clean-up starting immediately. Wind gusts of up to 90mph, cut power to nearly 100,000 Gulf Coast residents. The surge left behind piles of debris and sand, but for the most part, damage appeared to be light. Flooding was reported at several coastal Casinos in Biloxi. Numerous boats were washed ashore or pushed into docks and pilings. Several tornadoes were also reported, especially across Alabama.

Nate has been a fast moving storm, travelling from Central America on Thursday to the Ohio Valley Monday morning. The storm has weakened to a post-tropical system early Monday, located near Akron, Ohio. Heavy rain is falling north and west of the center, with 25-50mm (1-2 inches) expected along the lower Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Valley on Thanksgiving Monday. The rain will persist most of the day in Montreal, along with gusty northeast winds. Nate will move into Atlantic Canada tonight.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Hurricane Nate heads for central Gulf Coast

Satellite image of hurricane Nate, located 345 miles south of the Gulf Coast early Saturday, October 7. (NOAA)
Hurricane Nate is rapidly moving towards the central Gulf Coast on Saturday morning, as a category 1 storm. Warnings and watches are in effect from western Florida to central Louisiana, including metro New Orleans. As of 4am Saturday morning, Nate has 80mph (130km/h) winds and is moving north at 22mph (35km/h). The center of the storm is 345 miles (550km) south, southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Some strengthening is forecast by the National Hurricane Center before Nate crosses the coast late tonight. The coastlines of Mississippi and Alabama are prone to storm surge flooding. A surge of up to 9 feet is forecast in those regions. Heavy rainfall is forecast along the path of Nate from the Gulf Coast into New England. A state of emergency has been declared in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana in advance of the storm. Precautions to protect life and property are being rushed to completion Saturday morning.

Once inland, Nate will weaken rapidly to a depression and move towards southern New England. Much needed rainfall from Nate is forecast across southern Quebec on Thanksgiving Monday, with perhaps as much as 25mm (1 inch) here in Montreal.

Hurricane Nate is already being blamed for 21 deaths across Central America from flooding and mudslides.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Warm in Montreal while snow blankets southern Alberta

Heavy snow and blowing snow closed down a portion of the Trans Canada Highway east of Calgary on Tuesday, October 4. (Global News Photo)
The southern Quebec weather remains nearly perfect for early October. Sunshine along with above normal temperatures has prevailed since Sunday. Strong high pressure has delivered us the perfect days, along with chilly nights and widely scattered frost. A cold front is forecast to approach the region on Wednesday, with gusty southwest winds up to 50km/h and near record high temperatures of 26C (79F) forecast for Montreal. We will come close to the record for October 4 of 26.7C set in 2005. The cold front will lead to increasing clouds, along with showers and thunderstorms. Skies should clear on Thursday, with temperatures just slightly cooler. The weekend at this time will be partly cloudy, with showers. Temperatures will warm again to well above normal, and possibly record breaking by Sunday and Monday. Looking ahead deeper into October, above normal temperatures and dry weather is expected through the middle of the month. Beyond that, cooler weather is expected, but nothing earth shattering.

Alberta Snowstorm
While we were enjoying our beautiful weather here in eastern Canada, winter settled into southern Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan. Strong low pressure developed over Montana on Monday, producing heavy rain and snow across the region, along with winds in excess of 100km/h. The storm pulled down cold air on the west side of the system, producing heavy snow in the Rockies and across the plains south and east of Calgary. A portion of the Trans Canada Highway east of Calgary towards Medicine Hat was closed due to blowing snow and mounting accidents. Shelters were opened to help stranded motorists.

An impressive wind gust of 117km/h was recorded at Patricia, Alberta, 87km/h at Strathmore and 80km/h at Calgary. Snow totals included 10-15cm in and around Calgary, 20 to 25cm at Coronation and 35cm in the Cypress Hills bordering Alberta and Saskatchewan. On the warmer side of the low pressure, heavy rain fell along with thunderstorms. Rainfall amounts included, 59.6mm at Lucky Lake, 34mm at Swift Current and 19mm in Regina. Heavy snow also fell in portions of northern Montana. Conditions will warm up a little this week, so most of the snow should melt.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Record breaking September heatwave for Ontario & Quebec

The hot and humid weather in eastern Canada established over 60 new record highs on Monday, September 25.
Just how hot was September 25th in Ontario and Quebec? Between the two provinces, over 60 new high temperature records were established. Montreal reached 31.5C (88F), the second warmest day of the entire year. This temperature was also the warmest fall temperature ever recorded in the city. Monday also marked the 17th consecutive day with no precipitation. On Tuesday, Montreal established another high temperature record at 29.1C, the old record was 26.5C set in 2007. This marks three consecutive days, and we will likely break another record Wednesday before cooler weather arrives. In addition to the record high temperatures, the humidex reading of 40C on Monday, was the latest in the season such a reading has been observed. This broke the record established just the previous day. Montreal also set new high/low temperature records with 20.6C overnight Sunday. This value smashed the previous record of 17.2C set in 1958. Heat warnings remain in effect for southern and eastern Ontario as well as southern Quebec.  The hot weather has also spread into Atlantic Canada. Late Tuesday afternoon, CFB Gagetown was the warmest location in the country at 33C (91F).

All this summer heat and humidity will come to an end late Wednesday and Thursday as a cold front arrives. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible along with temperatures returning to normal values for late September. In Montreal, that would be 17C (63F) for daytime highs and 7C (45F) for morning lows.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Record heat surges into Quebec and Ontario

Montreal can expect record heat and humidity through Wednesday. (AccuWeather.com)
It was quite odd this morning, walking the dog through falling leaves while the hum of air conditioners pierced the humid morning. The temperature was already  21C (70F) at 6am, on September 25, in Montreal no less. The normal high should be 17C (63F), Ile Perrot was already warmer. Actually we never dropped below 20C overnight, after a record high of 30.6C in Montreal on Sunday. The high on Sunday shattered the previous record of 26.7C set in 1968. With a humidex or real feel temperature of 40C (104F) and dew points in the middle 20s, it was downright tropical for anytime of the year in Montreal, let alone late September. The 40C humidex reading was the latest in the season such a plateau has been reached. The previous for Montreal was on September 22, 1965.

Widespread Record Highs
Over two dozen record high temperatures were established Sunday in Ontario and Quebec. These included Toronto at 33.6C (92F), Ottawa at 31.8C (89F), Sherbrooke at 29.8C (85F), St Hubert at 30.8C (88F) and St. Anicet and Cornwall at 31.2C (89F). The heat and humidity stretched from the US Midwest across the Great Lakes and Northeast and into Atlantic Canada. The heatwave is forecast to last through Wednesday, reaching 30C in Montreal each day. If this occurs, new record highs will be established on each of the next three days in southern Quebec. A cold front should bring us back to reality by next weekend, when daytime highs will drop back into the teens. There is even a risk of frost and temperatures near the freezing point for overnight lows. So if summer heat and humidity are your thing, enjoy this week.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Forecast for record heat forces cancellation of Montreal Marathon

The Montreal Marathon, scheduled for this weekend, has been cancelled by organizers due to the expected heat and humidity. (Rock & Roll Oasis Marathon Photo)
Fall arrives Friday afternoon at 4:02PM, but you would not know that based on the forecast. Today marks the 11 consecutive day in Montreal with no rain and above normal temperatures. The forecast for the upcoming weekend calls for more hot weather, with near record highs of 28C (84F) Saturday and 30C (86F) Sunday, along with elevated humidity levels. The record high temperature for Saturday is 30C set in 1961, and 26.7C Sunday, set in 1968. We most certainly will break the record Sunday. The forecast has prompted organizers of the Rock and Roll/Oasis Montreal Marathon to cancel the full marathon. The half marathon and 10km events will still take place, but start at 7:30am. This surprisingly hot weather comes at the end of what was a rather dismal summer. While Montreal is enjoying this spectacular forecast, the first snow of the season covered the ground in parts of northern and central Alberta. Below normal temperatures have replaced searing heat across portions of western Canada. The cool weather has been welcome, as the area was experiencing a devastating fire season.

An aerial photo provided by the Government of Dominica, showing widespread devastation in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria is churning through the waters of the northern Caribbean Sea on Thursday morning after devastating the tiny island of Dominica, along with portions of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Dominica has been leveled,  most of the structures damaged or destroyed. Water and power have been disrupted, and 14 fatalities have been reported. Puerto Rico also took a direct hit from Maria on Wednesday, with torrential rains and 150mph winds. Two National Weather Service radars was destroyed along with most observation equipment. Widespread flooding has occurred, with over 300mm (1 foot) of rain falling. Power is out to the entire island of over 3.5 million residents. The Governor of Puerto Rico estimates that it may take 4 to 6 months to reconstruct the entire electrical grid. As of 8am Thursday morning, Maria had intensified again to a category 3 hurricane, with 115 mph (185km/h) winds. The center of the storm was located 150km northwest of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Maria's next target will be the Turks and Caicos.

Meanwhile tropical storm Jose will not go away. The peaky system continues to pound east coast beaches from Cape Cod to the Outer Banks with huge swells and surf. Coastal flooding has been reported. Jose is forecast to drift south off the eastern seaboard and gradually weaken this weekend.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The best weather of the year for Montreal

Hydro Quebec was on the ground in Georgia last week, helping to restore power in the wake of hurricane Irma. The well respected utility sent down 50 crews, a total of 125 employees. Irma snapped trees and power lines, cutting power to over 9 million homes and businesses from Florida to the Carolina's. (Hydro Quebec Photo)
Our absolutely spectacular summer weather continues this week, with abundant sunshine and much above normal temperatures forecast fro Montreal. Daytime high temperatures were in the upper 20's this past weekend, 29C (85F) at my home on L'Ile Perrot Sunday afternoon. The normal high for mid-September in Montreal should be 19C (66F), with a normal low of 8C (47F). The only glitch in an otherwise perfect forecast, has been dense fog in the morning. The air mass is very humid, and the nights much longer, as a result fog has been forming nightly. The other slight glitch in the forecast may be hurricane Jose. High pressure should keep Jose well to our south, but a few clouds and perhaps a stray shower may pivot down the St. Lawrence Valley Tuesday or Wednesday. Otherwise expect sunshine through next Sunday, along with temperatures in the middle to upper 20s and lows in the middle teens.

Hurricane Jose
The Atlantic hurricane season continues to be extremely active. As mentioned, hurricane Jose is still meandering around the Atlantic, and is located this morning 270 miles (440km) east southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Jose has 85mph winds, and is moving north at 9mph (15km/h). Jose is already producing elevated surf from southern New England to the Outer Banks. A tropical storm watch is now in effect for coastal regions from Delaware north to Massachusetts. Winds up to 45mph (70km/h) along with up to 4 inches (100mm) of rain are possible for coastal locations Tuesday.

Hurricane Maria
Over the weekend, hurricane Maria developed and is presently located 85 miles (135km) east of Martinique in the Leeward Islands. Sadly, Maria is forecast to become a major hurricane and trek across some of the same regions impacted by Irma two weeks ago. The northern Leeward islands will be impacted as early as Tuesday, with Puerto Rico expected to take a direct hit on Wednesday. All interests in the Bahamas and eastern US will need to monitor Maria carefully over the next week to 10 days.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Summer 2017 in Montreal - saving the best for last

Haze and smoke made for a spectacular sunset in Montreal on Monday, September 11. Warm and dry weather is forecast to end summer 2017. (Valley Weather Photo)
It took the entire season, but Montreal is finally seeing some perfect summer weather. Strong high pressure centered over the province, is providing perfect late summer days, with low humidity and above normal temperatures. At the same time, the nights have been cool, perfect for sleeping.

This spell of perfect weather is coming during the last full week of summer 2017, a season that has for the most part, not been so good. Precipitation was above normal, with temperatures below, not an ideal combination for a city that loves summer. If you like the heat, it was absent most of the season. Montreal officially recorded only one day where the temperatures was 30C (86F) or above. Normally we have at least 9 such days.

Our current stretch of dry, warm weather started last Sunday and is expected to persist right through the upcoming weekend. As the high pressure slides east off the coast, warmer southerly winds will pick up this weekend, with a slight rise in humidity levels as well. Temperatures will be well above normal, averaging 27C (81F) for a daytime high and 13C (55F) for the overnight low. Normally we should be at 20C (68F) and 9C (48F) respectively. The only exception to the sunshine may be a few high thin clouds Thursday, as what is left of hurricane Irma slides across southern New England late tomorrow and Friday. Any showers will remain across southern New York and Vermont. Enjoy the fine forecast, fall officially arrives next Friday, September 22 at 4:02PM.

Monday, September 11, 2017

From south to north - widespread damage in Florida

Widespread damage along the overseas Highway 1 in Marathon Key, Florida. (Photo via Twitter @JustonStrmRider)
Hurricane Irma has weakened to a tropical storm late Monday afternoon, the center located 85km east of Tallahassee. Irma has 60mph winds (85km/h), and is moving north, northwest at 17 mph (28km/h). Irma remains a large storm, with tropical storm force winds extending outward an incredible 415 miles (665km) from the center of circulation.

The storm has left a widespread trail of damage and destruction in its wake, from the Keys to Miami and north to Jacksonville as well as Georgia and South Carolina. Power is out to nearly 6 million residents from Florida to the Carolina's. Sixty five percent of the Florida power grid is down.

Landfall occurred on Sunday morning near Cudjoe Key, with 130mph winds. A peak gust to 141mph was reported at Naples, Florida. On Monday, the storm crept northward across the peninsula while slowly weakening. Even in a weakened state, Irma's broad circulation produced a tremendous storm surge along the east coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Record flooding is occurring in Jacksonville, along with winds in excess of 75mph. Homes have been damaged and in many cases destroyed. Crews are slowly moving southward across the Florida Keys, inspecting infrastructure and doing a door to door search for victims. To date, 4 fatalities have been blamed on Irma in Florida, 10 in Cuba and 20 across the rest of the Caribbean. Hundreds of thousands of Florida residents remain in shelters today, unable to return home due to damaged, blocked or flooded roads. Relief is pouring into the region, and FEMA is on the ground. Included in the relief effort, will be 175 utility employees from Ontario's Hydro 1.

A record storm surge flooded parts of Florida's east coast, including Miami-Dade, Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach shown above. (The Weather Channel/AP)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma making landfall in south Florida

The storm surge splashes over the famous Key West buoy, as Irma nears the tiny chain of Florida islands. 
Hurricane Irma has strengthened this morning on its final approach to south Florida. Bands of heavy rain and fierce winds are impacting Florida's east coast, but it is the Florida Keys and the west coast that will take a direct hit over the next 24 to 36 hours. As of 5am Sunday, Irma was located 40 miles south, southeast of Key West, crawling northwest at 8mph. Winds in the eye wall of the storm have increased to 130mph (215km/h). A wind gust to 88mph (141km/h) was observed at Alligator Reef Light early this morning. The incredible forecasters, still on duty at the Key West National Weather Service office, reported a gust to 79mph. Isolated tornadoes are possible in the feeder bands from Irma throughout south Florida today.

Irma will remain a very dangerous storm as the system sweeps from south to north across the Florida peninsula today. Fort Myers, Naples, and Tampa are in the cross hairs for direct impacts form the strongest winds. Already major flooding is occurring, even on the east coast of Florida. Storm surges of 10 to 15 feet are forecast on the west coast, with 6 to 8 feet from the upper keys into Miami-Dade. Power is out to an estimated half million customers already in south Florida. Irma is forecast to move into Georgia on Monday.

I have not forgotten about hurricane Jose. Indications are that this storm may also impact the US. I will deal with that once Irma is out of the way. More updates will follow later today on both systems.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Irma forces mass evacuations along the Florida coast

A sign of the times as millions of Florida residents are fleeing inland in advance of Hurricane Irma. (USA Today Photo)
Over one million residents are heading inland along the Florida and Georgia coastlines in advance of deadly hurricane Irma. As of 8am Friday morning, Irma was located 450 miles (720km) southeast of Miami, moving west northwest at 16mph (26km/h). Irma has weakened slightly to a category 4 storm, with winds of 150mph (240km/h). Irma however remains a large and powerful hurricane capable of major damage. Residents of south Florida, including Monroe, Dade and Broward counties, have been fleeing northward, jamming interstates and creating a run on gas and water. Fuel tankers were escorted by Florida State Troopers on Thursday, in an effort to alleviate the shortage. Over 50 percent of the gas stations in Metro Dade reported major shortages, or no gas at all.

Congestion on US 1 in the Florida Keys ahead of Irma. (Miami Herald Photo)
Irma is forecast to approach the southeast coast of Florida late Saturday or early Sunday, possibly making a direct hit on Miami and its 6 million residents. A storm surge of 5 to 10 feet is possible in the low-lying Florida Keys. The storm surge is a dome of water generated by the storm, preceding it into the coastline. Storm surge flooding is the deadliest component of most hurricanes, reaching in some cases over 20 feet. Waves on top of the surge can demolish homes and destroy infrastructure. The hurricane is expected to move from south to north across the entire state of Florida over the weekend, before moving into Georgia and the Carolina's. Irma's wind field is massive, with tropical storm force winds extending more than 185 miles (295km) from the center of the storm. Damaging winds are expected to impact the entire state of Florida. Federal and State resources have been mobilized in advance of the hurricane, staging in various sections of the state and neighboring Alabama. Meanwhile, relief efforts are in full force across the Caribbean, where several islands were leveled by Irma. The death toll is at 20 as of Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Historic hurricane Irma pounds the Leeward Islands

A spectacular infrared satellite image of the eye of Irma passing directly over Barbuda on Wednesday morning. (NOAA)
At 8pm Wednesday evening, hurricane Irma was located 50 miles (80km) north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, after decimating several of the northern Leeward Islands. According to Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Barbuda and Antigua, 90 percent of the tiny island of 1600 lay in ruins. Irma, a powerful category 5 hurricane with 185mph (290km/h) winds, passed directly over Barbuda early Wednesday. A peak wind gust of 155mph (250km/h) was measured on Barbuda, before the anemometer failed. Communications and infrastructure has been destroyed, and it will likely take months if not longer to rebuild. Browne estimated damages will exceed $150 million US dollars. One fatality was reported on Barbuda, with at least two on nearby St. Martin. On St Martin, several buildings were leveled, with major damage reported at the famed Princess Juliana Airport. Also hit hard late Wednesday were the British Virgin Islands, with reports of widespread significant damage.

According to the Prime Minister of Barbuda, 90 percent of the island was damaged by Irma. (Mirror)
Irma has maintained 185mph winds for over 24 hours now, the longest in recorded history for any storm in the Atlantic basin. The storm is still slightly weaker, at least from a wind standpoint, than Allen in 1980. At peak intensity, Allen has 190mph winds. But make no mistake, Irma is a beast. The storm is wider than the state of Florida. In the US, massive evacuations have been ordered for coastal communities from the Florida Keys to Miami Beach. A state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Georgia and the Carolina's. The southern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos are preparing for what could be an historic storm surge, well over 20 feet. Irma will impact the northern coastal areas of Hispaniola Thursday, before approaching the Bahamas on Friday. A US landfall in Florida is expected this weekend before Irma move northward into Georgia and the Carolina's.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Powerful hurricane Irma heads for Caribbean islands

A visible satellite image of powerful, category 5, hurricane Irma, early Tuesday, September 5. (NOAA)
Fresh on the heels of hurricane Harvey, comes a powerful sibling, Irma. Hurricane Irma has reached category 5 status on Tuesday morning, with 180 mph (290km/h) winds. A NOAA-US Air Force hurricane hunter found a strengthening storm early this morning, poised to impact the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the British and US Virgin Islands. Irma is located 440 km east of Atigua, moving west at 14 mph (22km/h). Widespread warnings and watches are in effect across the Caribbean. A category 5 storm is capable of catastrophic damage. Irma is forecast to also impact Hispaniola, and Cuba before taking aim at the southern Bahamas.

Beyond the Caribbean, forecasters are looking at several guidance models that are leaning towards a Florida landfall of some sort by this coming weekend. Florida Sate Governor, Rick Scott, issued a state of emergency, effective on Monday. I imagine that within the next 24 to 36 hours, if Irma remains on her current path, that evacuations will be needed for at least the Florida Keys. It is early to speculate, but indications are Irma may impact not only Florida, but many sections of the southeast and eastern Seaboard.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Patchy frost tonight - rain from Harvey Sunday

The remains of tropical storm Harvey will interact with a frontal system, producing rain over southern Quebec Sunday. Meanwhile hurricane Irma has developed in the eastern Atlantic. (NOAA)
Frost Advisory
September has started on a rather cool note, with cold high pressure over Ontario producing unseasonably chilly temperatures, along with gusty northwest winds. Montreal was 8C (48F) Friday morning, recovering only to 16C (61F) in the afternoon. Locations northwest of the city were even colder Friday. Ottawa established a record low for September 1st at 4.7C (40F), the previous was 6.1C (43F) set in 1967. The forecast low tonight is 3C (37F) in Ottawa, with scattered frost. A frost advisory is in effect tonight for portions of northern and central Ontario, the Ottawa Valley, West Quebec as well at Mont Tremblant, Sainte-Agathe and the Saquenay, Lac St Jean region. Frost advisories are also in effect for the Adirondacks of New York and northeast Vermont. Scattered frost is likely just before sunrise Saturday.

Saturday will be milder, with abundant sunshine and a high temperature near 21C (70F). The nice weather however will be short-lived. The remains of tropical storm Harvey, currently over Kentucky, will be moving north into the Ohio Valley. The system has weakened significantly since producing catastrophic flooding in Texas and Louisiana. Harvey still managed to drop 100 to 200mm of rain in the Mississippi Valley as well as Tennessee. Isolated tornadoes have been reported as well. Harvey will interact with a frontal boundary sliding across the Great Lakes, producing rain across southern Quebec on Sunday. I originally thought the rain would remain to our south, but the front will act like a straw, drawing deep tropical moisture into the St. Lawrence Valley. We can expect 15-25mm (1 inch) of rain Sunday, along with gusty winds and cool temperatures. Conditions should improve slightly for Labour Day Monday, with partly cloudy skies and slightly warmer temperatures.

Hurricane Irma
Of note, a new hurricane has developed in the open waters of the Atlantic about 1600 miles (2500km) east of the Leeward Islands. Irma is a major hurricane with 110mph (175km/h) winds, moving west northwest at 13 mph (20km/h). The storm is forecast to strengthen. It is very early in the life cycle of this system, but forecasters are watching it carefully to see what the impact may be to the Caribbean and possibly North America by late next week.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Goodbye summer 2017

Summer is disappearing quickly, with the first hint of colour appearing in the trees on L'Ile Perrot this week. (Valley Weather Photo)
September is upon us, the start of meteorological fall. As I have mentioned before, forecasters like things neat and tidy, so they divide the seasons into 4 equal portions. Fall does not officially start until September 22nd, but the days are getting longer and the nights noticeably cooler.

Time to take a brief look back at what seemed like a very short summer. Montreal came off a cloudy, cool and wet spring, and that trend seemed to last well into July. As far as heat goes, there was none, only one lonely day above 30C, June 18 at 32.1C (90F). This would be the warmest day of meteorological summer. Montreal usually averages 8 or 9 days above 30C. Overall temperatures averaged close to normal for the three months, 18.7C in June, 20.8C in July, and 20.3C in August. Nothing spectacular, just normal, the cooler days being offset by warmer nights. Our average daytime high for summer 2017 (June through August), was 24.7C (76F). The normal long-term average is 25.1C (77F).

Rainfall was a little different, somewhat exceptional at times, especially for the first half of the summer, when it seemed to rain every second day. June measured 135.2 mm of rain, well above the normal of 87mm. July was wet as well, with 125.4mm, the normal is 89.3mm. The atmosphere dried out a touch in August, with 76mm, the normal is 94.1mm. The dry August has been helped along by the first stretch of dry weather this summer, no rain from the 23rd to the 29th. As far as thunderstorm activity goes, they were few and far between, but when they did occur, they were big. Most notable was the storm on July 31st in St Laurent, that caused flooding and power outages and of course the powerful microburst in NDG on August 22nd. Damage from that storm was significant.

Fall Outlook
At this time, the fall looks warmer and dryer than normal. We are not expecting extremely hot weather, but rather temperatures a degree or two above the long-term average. Rainfall is expected to be near normal, however there is always the risk of a wayward tropical system brushing our region with heavy rain. This historically happens more often than you think. As we enter September, the loss of additional daylight will start the process of the trees changing colour and eventually dropping their leaves. This process will be accelerated by any sub-freezing nights we have. Keep in mind, the average first frost for metro Montreal is October 12, earlier in the outlying suburbs.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Historic flooding swamps southeast Texas

My brother-in-law has family in Houston and sent me this photo of major flooding in the northwest suburbs. (Photo Steve Bussiere)
Tropical storm Harvey continues to meander just off the upper Texas coast, sending torrents of rain into metro Houston. Rainfall amounts have reached epic levels, with over 42 inches (1070 mm) at the Houston National Weather Service office since Friday night. That amount of rainfall is well over the normal annual rainfall in Montreal of 785 mm. Look around your neighbourhood and imagine the water at, and even above the roof tops. Rainfall totals will exceed the Texas state record of 48 inches by the time this storm moves away.

This event has entered a territory never seen in modern times in North America. The result of the rain has been catastrophic flooding across southeast Texas. Thousands of water rescues have taken place, and the effort is ongoing. First responders are being joined by 12,000 Texas National Guard troops, as well as numerous Federal assets. Sadly the death toll has reached 7, and is expected to climb. Tens of thousands remain trapped in their homes. Houston is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the US, home to over 4 million residents.

This morning, tropical storm Harvey is located 145 miles south southwest of Port Arthur, Texas, drifting east at 3 mph. The system continues to pump copious amounts of tropical moisture inland over southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas. Forecasters expect another 1 to 2 feet of rain over the region before Harvey finally moves off towards the northeast on Thursday.

As of Tuesday morning, numerous rivers, lakes and reservoirs are rapidly exceeding record flood stage levels with the flood emergency worsening by the hour.

Major flooding is occurring across southeast Texas from tropical storm Harvey. (KHOU)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Catastrophic flooding across southeast Texas from Harvey

Severe flooding is occurring in Houston, where over 20 inches of rain has fallen from hurricane Harvey. (KHOU) 
What was hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, continues to impact southeast Texas late Sunday. The center of Harvey is spinning slowly southeast towards the Gulf of Mexico, while drawing copious amounts of tropical moisture inland. The hardest hit region continues to be the Houston/Galveston metro area, where a flash flood emergency has been declared. Some locations have reported over 20 inches (500 mm) of rain since Friday night. Dayton, Texas leads the way with 27.45 inches (658 mm). The result has been devastating, unprecedented flooding. Both airports in Houston are closed. Thousands of water rescues have taken place since last evening, by both local authorities and the US Coast Guard. Resources continue to pour into the region to help the overwhelmed local authorities. Most highways bisecting Houston are under water at this time, with travel prohibited. So far at least one hospital, the studios of KHOU TV, and several prisons have been evacuated.

Harvey, located 25 miles northwest of Victoria, Texas, is expected to drift into the northern Gulf of Mexico this week, before moving slowly back into east Texas. Heavy rain, perhaps another 20 inches is expected before the storm leaves the area by next Thursday. Catastrophic flooding is forecast to continue, with most rivers and bayous exceeding record flood stage. The record for the most rainfall in Texas is 48 inches (1219 mm) at Medina in August 1978. This record may be challenged with Harvey, with heavy rain forecast through the upcoming week.

Further down the coast, the clean-up is underway in Rockport and Port Aransas, where widespread severe damage occurred on Friday, August 24. Numerous buildings were completely destroyed by Harvey's 130 mph winds and 12 foot storm surge. So far two fatalities and approximately 100 injuries have been reported.

Severe damage occurred in Rockport, Texas, when Harvey made landfall Friday, August 25. (TWC)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Powerful hurricane Harvey slams Texas coast

A spectacular satellite image showing the eye of hurricane Harvey just prior to landfall Friday night, on San Jose Island, Texas. (NOAA)
A strengthening hurricane Harvey made landfall at around 10pm CDT Friday, August 25, along the Texas Gulf Coast near San Jose Island, north of Port Aransas. Harvey had developed into a major hurricane in the last few hours before landfall Friday, reaching category 4 status with winds of 130 mph. Harvey was the first major hurricane in over a decade to hit the US, the last being Charley in 2004. Harvey managed to go from near death, to a major category 4 storm, in less than 72 hours over the warm Gulf waters. As daylight breaks along the central Texas coast, a better view of the storms impact is coming into focus. There is widespread damage reported, especially on Port Aransas, Port O'Connor and Rockport. Buildings have collapse and injuries are reported. Debris is scattered everywhere, with power out to over 200,000 homes, and that number is growing by the hour. A peak wind of 132 mph was observed at Port Aransas.

Wind damage in Matagorda County, Texas on Friday afternoon.
This morning, Harvey remains a powerful category 2 storm, located 30 miles south of Victoria, Texas. The storm is meandering northwest at 6 mph.  Harvey is forecast to transition into a major, catastrophic rain event, with over 20 inches forecast for most of southern and coastal Texas, including Houston. Victoria, Texas has already measured 16.43 inches (417mm) of rain in just the last 24 hours. Forecast estimates for Victoria run as high as 50 inches (1270mm) for the duration of the storm. This amount of rainfall from a single event is unheard of, with widespread flooding anticipated. To put this into perspective, Montreal receives an average annual rainfall of 785mm (31 inches) for the entire year.

The forecast track for Harvey over the next few days has the storm weakening slowly over land, while moving into east Texas and southwest Louisiana. In addition to the flooding, scattered tornadoes continue to affect east Texas. The tornado risk will persist throughout Saturday.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Extremely dangerous hurricane Harvey set to inundate Texas

The eye of Harvey has become visible Friday morning, as the dangerous storm spins just 80 miles off the coast of Texas. Corpus Chrisite appears to the point of landfall at this time. (NOAA)
Hurricane Harvey is poised to become the first major hurricane, category 3 or higher, to strike the US coast since Wilma in 2005. Harvey, left for dead along the Yucatan coast just a few days ago, has now become an extremely dangerous system. As of 11am Friday morning, Harvey is located about 80 miles southeast of Corpus Chrisite, Texas, with 110 mph (175 km/h) winds. Harvey is moving towards the northwest at 10 mph (17 km/h). Heavy rain and thunderstorms are already impacting portions of the warned area along the central and southern Texas coast. Winds and waves will continue increase as the day wears on, with the worst conditions arriving with the eye of Harvey late this evening. A storm surge of 6 to 12 feet is expected along the immediate coastal area, as Harvey makes landfall by midnight tonight. Evacuations and preparations are being rushed to completion at this hour.

Historical Rainfall Forecast
Wind is only one component of this dangerous storm, water will be the big story. Harvey is forecast to meander around southern and eastern Texas for the next 3 to 4 days, with torrential rainfall. Unbelievable rain estimates of 15 to 25 inches (300 to 600mm) are being forecast with up to 35 inches locally. This amount of rainfall will certainly lead to catastrophic inland and fresh water flooding. Emergency officials are preparing for widespread flash flooding across all of Texas and into Arkansas and Louisiana. Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are in the upper 80s, with plenty of moisture and energy available to fuel this storm.

Midday Friday radar from Corpus Christie, Texas, shows the eye of Hurricane Harvey less than 80 miles from the Texas Gulf Coast.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What caused all the damage in N.D.G.?

Power poles were snapped in half in the Montreal borough of N.D.G. after severe thunderstorms on Tuesday, August 22. (Hydro Quebec Photo)

The strong thunderstorm that rolled across the island of Montreal late in the afternoon of Tuesday, August 22nd, downed hundreds of trees and snapped hydro poles in half like toothpicks. Most of the damage was centered around the Montreal borough of N.D.G. Thousands were left without power, with widespread damage to cars and buildings. As mentioned on this blog early Tuesday morning, all the ingredients were coming together for a particularly potent afternoon of thunderstorms activity. Mother Nature did not disappoint.

MICROBURST
So what caused all the damage? According to Environment Canada, it was a microburst generated by a severe thunderstorm cell as it swept east-northeast across the city. Thunderstorms by nature are extremely complex entities, with rising and sinking air, as well as tremendous temperature variations from the upper atmosphere to ground level. The National Weather Service definition of a microburst is that cold air from within the storm descends from the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere, often from several thousand feet high. As the cold air reaches the surface of the earth, it rolls out rapidly, usually in the same direction the storm is moving. As the air rolls out, it is rapidly compressed causing the wind speed to increase dramatically. The wind can be enhanced by local geography, topography and buildings. Microbursts are small scale weather phenomena, typically affecting an area only a few square kilometres in direct proximity to the parent storm. This was quite evident in N.D.G., with most of the major damage confined to a small area.

Winds within a microburst can often reach 100km/h or more and in extreme cases, as high as 240km/h. Microbursts are much more common than tornadoes, and responsible for most of the damage generated by thunderstorms here in Canada. In the case of the N.D.G storm, winds were estimated of at least 100mk/h. When examining the damage from N.D.G., it becomes immediately apparent this was caused by a microburst and not a tornado. In a microburst, all wind flows out, with debris lying in straight lines parallel to the outward winds. In a tornado, the wind flows inward, with debris lying helter skelter at all angles.

EF-1 Tornado
In addition to the storms in the Montreal region, Environment Canada has confirmed that an EF-1 tornado, with winds up to 175km/h, touched down in Lachute at 6:10pm Tuesday, August 22. The tornado tore up trees and damaged over 350 homes. Some of the structures had their roofs torn off resulting in 40 people being evacuated.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Thousands without power after strong thunderstorms sweep Montreal

Sherbrooke Street West in N.D.G after strong afternoon thunderstorms. (Photo via Twitter @EffieInMtl)
Lines of strong thunderstorms have been impacting southern Ontario and Quebec on Tuesday. Severe thunderstorms watches remain in effect along with scattered warnings. Even a tornado watch was posted for Eastern Ontario and upstate New York.

As of 5:15PM, nearly 100,000 Quebec homes were in the dark, including 58,000 in Montreal. The N.D.G. neighborhood of Montreal was impacted with strong straight line winds that tore down hundreds of trees, some onto homes and cars. Damage is widespread. Crews are on the scene starting what will likely be a lengthy clean-up. A peak wind gust of 81km/h was recorded at Trudeau Airport. Looking at the damage in N.D.G., the wind appeared to be much stronger there.  Heavy rain also accompanied the fast moving storms.

More tree damage in N.D.G. (Photo via Twitter @DJVminD)

Elevated risk of severe thunderstorms today

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for southern Quebec today.
Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for southern Quebec already today. A cold front will slice into a very warm, humid and unstable air mass, located here in the St. Lawrence Valley. The ingredients are coming together for a severe weather outbreak across eastern Ontario into Quebec. The storms are already beginning to fire up in the Ottawa Valley this morning, and will increase in aerial coverage this afternoon.

Any storms that do develop, will have the potential to produce very strong winds, torrential rain, hail and even isolated tornadoes. Warnings will be issued when storms are threatening an exact location. The watch is just a general indicator of the risk for any one region. If outdoors today, seek shelter immediately when threatening weather and especially lightning approach. Listen for warnings, which may be issued at anytime today. High temperatures will be near 30C (86F) today, cooling off after the frontal passage.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Day weather for Montreal

Monday, August 21, 2017, Eclipse Day in North America.
Today is the day millions of sky gazers have been waiting for, Eclipse Day 2017. The Great American Eclipse as it has been dubbed, will move at more than 2400 km/h (1500 mph) from coast to coast, the first to do so since 1918. The eclipse will begin at 10:15 AM Pacific time in Newport, Oregon, moving rapidly across the US over the span of 1 hour and 33 minutes, and sliding into the Atlantic near McClellenville, South Carolina at 2:49 PM ET. Outside of the 70 mile wide path of totality, the rest of the US and southern Canada will be treated to a partial eclipse.

Here in Montreal, we can expect close to 60 percent of the sun to be shadowed by the passing moon. The eclipse will begin at 1:21 PM, reaching peak at 2:38 PM and ending at 3:20 PM. The forecast for today is perfect. Sunrise was at 6:02 this morning, with some high cirrus clouds present. The sky should be mostly clear today, perhaps a few wispy clouds, it will be warm and humid, with high temperatures close to 30C (86F).

Remember, damage to your eyes can occur in seconds, avoid looking directly into the sun without proper eclipse eye wear. Standard sun glasses will not protect your eyes from damage. For a safe alternative, the event will be streamed online by various news outlets as well as NASA. I plan on paying close attention to the weather during the eclipse for any notable changes, as well as the surrounding landscape. Enjoy and be safe!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Clear skies forecast for partial eclipse in Montreal

Nearly 60 percent of the surface of the sun over Montreal will be covered by the moon on Monday, August 21 at 2:38pm. (Photo: timeanddate.com)
As the final countdown draws close for the start of the total eclipse on Monday, August 21, attention will be focused on the all important weather forecast. Millions of people around the US and Canada will be eager for clear skies to view, what is for many, a once in a lifetime event. The narrow path of totality, spanning only 70 miles (113km) wide, will be the main focus for viewing on Monday. But interest is high, even here in Montreal, where approximately 60 percent of the sun will be covered by the shadow of the passing moon. The eclipse will begin at 1:21 pm in Montreal, peaking at 2:38pm and ending at 3:12pm. The eclipse will be traveling across North America at approximately 1700 mph (2735 km/h), so pay attention! Totality, or in the case of Montreal the peak period, will only last for 2 to 3 minutes at any given location.

Partial eclipse of the sun; if skies remain clear on Monday, Montreal will be in for a rare celestial treat.
In a summer that has had more clouds than sun, there was a good bet that Monday's weather would impede viewing in Montreal. At the moment, that does not appear to be the case. Sunshine and warm temperatures are expected for southern Quebec. Some clouds are possible, especially along the US border and in eastern Ontario, but at worst, the skies would be partly cloudy. The best viewing weather is expected to be across western regions of the continent, with clear skies forecast across southern Albert and British Columbia south into the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies. As the eclipse travels southeast across the US, more clouds, along with showers and thunderstorms are possible from the Midwest into the Southeast. Other regions from the Great Lakes into the Northeast have a 50/50 chance of full on clouds or clear skies. It will likely be a daytime decision as to where some will choose to settle in and view this spectacular event. One guaranteed location for clear, safe and extensive viewing, will be online at the NASA website. Live steaming will occur at Eclipse Live. NASA will draw on the resources of 11 spacecraft, at least three aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The tropics are heating up

Hurricane Gert is located in the open waters of the Atlantic, while three other areas of disturbed weather are being closely monitored for development. (Weather Nation)
Hurricane Gert is churning northeast through the Atlantic Ocean this morning, 765km south of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Gert is the second hurricane of the 2017 season, and the earliest G named storm dating back to the 2005 season. Gert is forecast to remain well offshore along the east coast, however large swells are being generated by the storm. Wave heights along the Nova Scotia coast are expected to be as high as 2 metres through Thursday. On the south coast of Newfoundland, the waves may reach up to 4 metres and 5 metres in the Grand Banks.

As we head into the thick of the Atlantic hurricane season, the tropics are heating up. No less than three areas of disturbed weather in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean have the potential to become tropical systems. A tropical storm is named when winds reach 39mph. The storm is officially a hurricane at 74mph. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Centre in Miami will be closely monitoring the systems for potential development and to evaluate the risk to the Caribbean and eastern seaboard.

Eclipse Weather
Monday, August 21st will be an historic day, as a full solar eclipse takes place across portions of the United States. Here in Montreal, 60 to 70 percent of the sun will be blocked by the passage of the moon, reaching a peak at 2:38pm. At this time, the weather looks perfect for viewing in Montreal and southern Quebec. High pressure will be in control, with sunshine and warm temperatures in the upper 20s.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Partial eclipse to darken the skies over Montreal

The partial solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st, will darken 60 percent of the sun over Montreal.
On Monday, August 21, 2017, a narrow swath of North America, from southern Oregon to the Carolinas, will be treated to a very rare celestial phenomenon:  A total eclipse of the sun will occur on this date, starting on the Pacific Coast at 9:06AM PDT and exiting the Atlantic Seaboard at 4:06PM EDT. The eclipse will produce total darkness for a period of one to three minutes along a 70 mile (113km) wide path stretching diagonally across the US from Oregon to South Carolina. The percentage of sun covered by the moon will decrease rapidly as you move away from the main path. Here in Montreal, our partial eclipse of the sun will start at 1:21PM, reaching close to 60 percent coverage by 2:38PM and ending by 3:12PM. Across southern Canada, the amount of sun covered will vary from 90 percent in Vancouver, to 70 percent in Toronto and less than 50 percent across Atlantic Canada. 

A narrow path of total darkness will sweep across the US from coast to coast during the solar eclipse.
Residents in cities along the path of totality are preparing for a massive influx of people coming to view the rare event. Gridlock is expected on the more than 20 interstates that crisscross the path. Over 200 million residents live within a day’s drive of the path of totality. Hotels along the path have been booked for well over a year for this date. 

If crowds aren’t your thing, you can watch the event live on your computer or mobile device, streamed by NASA at www.nasa.gov/eclipselive   NASA also has an entire website devoted to the eclipse, eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has a list of viewing events planned from coast to coast. The list can be accessed on their website, www.rasc.ca/solar-eclipse-2017

 A reminder to those who plan on watching the eclipse live and in person, make certain you use protective eyewear. Staring directly into the sun does damage to your retinas and can result in permanent vision loss. More information on eyewear can be found here www.eclipseglasses.com

 With darkness lasting for up to three minutes at each location along the path of totality, the sudden loss of daylight can drop temperatures by as much as 10 degrees. It can also play havoc with wildlife, creating confusion, albeit for a short period of time. According to NASA, eclipses occur due to the special coincidence of the moon and the sun being the same angular size. The sun is 400 times wider than the moon, but it is also 400 times farther away, so both coincidentally appear to be the same size in our sky. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon crosses the path between the sun and the earth. This happens, on average, once every 18 months, with locations varying around the world. The last total eclipse visible in Montreal was on February 26, 1979. I was in 7th grade at the time in Verdun and very excited, to say the least. The school chose to keep students indoors, however, and the day was cloudy, limiting the effects in Montreal. The next total eclipse visible in the US and Canada will not occur until April 8, 2024, traveling from Texas northeast to New England. It will pass right over Montreal.  Let’s hope for a sunny day!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Montreal's summer weather in one word, unsettled

Damage in Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce from a confirmed EF-1 tornado on Saturday, August 5. (Radio Canada Photo)
If there is a word I have overused this summer, it is unsettled. I don't know how else to describe the days where we have sunshine, clouds and the ever present risk of showers or thunderstorms. There have been many. Since May 1st, Montreal's Trudeau Airport has recorded precipitation of a trace or more, on 65 of 100 days through August 8. On many of the other days, the weather has been overcast and cool, not exactly a summer of champions. Some like the cool weather, I don't. Our summers are too short to begin with, I like them to be warm.

This past weekend was just terrible, more clouds than sun, breezy, cold and at times wet. This followed a very stormy Friday, that had rounds of strong thunderstorms impacting southern Quebec. The wind gusted close to 80km/h at Trudeau Airport along with heavy rain. There were numerous reports in the city of downed trees. Some locations such a Napierville and St Constant reported major flooding as more than 100mm (4 inches) of rain fell on Friday alone. A sate of emergency was declared in Napierville. Thousands were also left without power. On Saturday, more strong storms occurred in Quebec, this time east of Montreal. Environment Canada confirmed the provinces fifth tornado of the season, and EF-1, capable of winds up to 170km/h. The storm struck Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, south of Quebec City. Widespread damage was reported to trees and homes, along with power outages.

The forecast for the balance of the week into the upcoming weekend does not look great. Following the trend well established this summer, expect unsettled weather at best. Tuesday and Wednesday will be the best days of the week, with more sunshine than clouds and mild highs near 27C (81F). The rest of the week into the weekend will be partly cloudy and humid, with numerous showers and isolated thunderstorms. The best chance for rain will be in the afternoon each day. This trend will last well into next week, with temperatures close to normal. The normal high is 26C (79F) and low 15C (59F).

Solar Eclipse
Expect a rare celestial treat for North Americans on Monday, August 21. A solar eclipse will be visible across a large portion of Canada and the US. I will post details on the timing of the partial eclipse here in Montreal, later this week.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

More strong thunderstorms possible through Friday

Flooding after Monday's severe thunderstorm under Cote-de-Liesse at Hickmore. Firefighters opened the manhole cover to release the flood waters. (CTV News)
Warm and humid weather is expected to continue Wednesday through Friday across metro Montreal. Montreal has not recorded a 30C plus temperature since June 18, when the mercury hit 32.1C (90F). The 30C free month of July, was only the eighth time in recorded history that this has occurred in Montreal. Weather records at Trudeau date back to 1942. The streak will come to an end today, if the city reaches the forecast high of 31C (88F). Strong thunderstorms are possible this afternoon, and again right through Friday evening, as the warm and humid air remains in place. Several impulses of energy will rotate through the warm air mass, generating the thunderstorms. Any storms that do develop will be possible of producing heavy rain, just like the storm Monday afternoon in central Montreal.

Flood waters gather in the parking lot along the Trans Canada Highway at Cote-Vertu on Monday, July 31. (Valley Weather)

Severe Thunderstorm Produces Flooding
On Monday afternoon, a strong isolated thunderstorm cell moved from Laval across north central Montreal towards Trudeau Airport between 4 and 5pm. The storm brought torrential rain, with between 33mm and 37mm falling in less than one hour in Saint Laurent and Dorval. The result was flooding of several basements and highways. Our parking garage and ramp here at The Suburban flooded rapidly from the torrential rain. Strong wind gusts in excess of 85km/h brought down several trees. Lightning and wind knocked out power to over 17,000 Hydro Quebec customers in metro Montreal. The thunderstorm also produced pea size hail. The storm rapidly dissipated as it swept southeast across the Island of Montreal. The isolated nature of this particular storm produced the heavy rain and flooding in a narrow swath through the city. I measured no rain at all on L'Ile Perrot, just 20 kilomteres to the southwest of Trudeau Airport.