Monday, February 27, 2017

Wild weekend weather

Sunday morning revealed heavy damage to a church in Franklin County, Massachusetts, after the first-ever February tornado to hit the state touched down late Saturday. (Photo via Twitter @cbsboston)
After a crazy weekend of bizarre weather, Monday has dawned relatively calm and mild in Montreal. The weekend featured strong thunderstorms, record-high temperatures, snow and whiplash-like temperature swings. On Friday night, rare February thunderstorms developed along a warm front in eastern Ontario, affecting the Ottawa Valley, and points north of Montreal. Saturday was a windy, warm day for most locations in southern Quebec. The warm air, however, had a very difficult time making it into metro Montreal, resulting in some incredible temperature contrasts. At one point Saturday afternoon, Montreal was 1C (33F), while Granby, 80km to our southeast, was 16C (61F) and Burlington, Vermont was 23C (73F). The 23C reading in Burlington was an all-time record high for the month of February, besting the record establish just last Thursday. By 3pm, the warmth briefly surged into Montreal, with the mercury soaring to 14.5C (57F), the warmest February day since 1981. That high also established a new daily record for Montreal, surpassing the previous of 8.9C set in 1956.

Rare February tornado
The warm air lasted less than one hour in Montreal, as a strong cold front came barreling through the region. The front featured thunder, lightning, hail, wind gusts over 70km/h at Trudeau, and very heavy rain. In just a few hours, Montreal recorded 26mm of rain, with 42mm at the McTavish weather station in downtown Montreal. The temperature fell rapidly, below freezing by midnight, with snow flurries. That same cold front produce widespread severe weather from southern Ontario into the middle Atlantic US. This included the first-ever February tornado on record in Massachusetts. The tornado, and EF-1 with 100mph winds, touched down Saturday afternoon in Franklin County. The storm caused damage and one injury.

The upcoming week will feature more mild temperatures and snow melt. Another low-pressure area will produce rain on Wednesday, with an additional 15-25mm possible. Environment Canada has posted a special weather statement for the possibility of flooding in some regions of southern Quebec. Flooding is also likely in upstate New York and northern Vermont.

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