Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Widespread flooding across Quebec - Ontario & New England

Flooding in Sherbrooke. (Sherbrooke Record)
The heavy rain and snow are well off to our east this morning as cold air and high pressure settle into southern Quebec. Between 25-50mm of rain has fallen in the region since late Sunday, the bulk of that coming along a cold front Tuesday afternoon. That front dropped temperatures in a hurry with rain changing to wet snow in Montreal by 5pm on Tuesday. Depending where you were in the metro region you had between 1-5cm of snow. This coming on the heels of a 16C high. Even better is where the temperature is this morning, at -7C, a new record low for Montreal for the date. It has eclipsed a long standing record low of -5C set in 1943. Sunshine will dominate today but it will only make it up to 2C. Warmer weather will return starting tomorrow. The front yesterday was impressive with the temperature at my home on L'Ile Perrot hitting 16.1C at 10:57am. As the front progressed across the city temperatures fell rapidly to 11C in a few minutes, down to 7C within the hour and below freezing by 4pm.

My daughter Maggie LB took the photos above and below of the swollen St Francis & Massawippi Rivers spilling onto the Campus at Bishops University in Lennoxville on Tuesday. The Campus remains closed today.
The rain and melting snow have caused widespread flooding across the southern half of the province. Numerous rivers including the St Francis, Yamaska, Chateauguay and Chaudiere and even Lake Champlain are over their banks this morning. Homes, business and many roads are flooded. At last count nearly three dozen roads were inundated or closed in Quebec, mostly across the Townships and Beauce. About 600 people were forced to evacuate in Sherbrooke after the Saint Francis & Massawippi Rivers overflowed into certain sectors of the city. Further downstream conditions were the same in Lennoxville where water poured onto the Campus of Bishops University. Classes and exams were cancelled for the day yesterday and the Campus remains closed today to non residents with students asked to remain in place for now. According to the Mayor of Sherbrooke, the worst is yet to come with more snow melting in the mountains and the water continuing to rise. More of the same in northern Vermont and New York where rising waters have closed many roads, forced evacuations and led to water rescues. In Eastern Ontario the Kemptville Creek and Rideau River are spilling over as well flooding farmland, roads along the waters edge as well as the Rideau Glen golf course. Around Laval and the island of Montreal the St Lawrence, Mille Iles and des Prairies are also on the rise and under a flood watch from Urgence Quebec.

The Massawippi River. Photos Maggie Lowson-Balena
Colder temperatures today will slow down the melting and runoff, but it is only temporary as the water has to run its course. The good news is no major rainfall is forecast for the short term.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Near record warmth to snow in 24 hours

Montreal missed a celestial show overnight due to cloud cover as a full lunar eclipse took place. It began at 2am and lasted three hours. This photo was provided from NASA.
Heavy Rainfall Warning 15-25mm for Montreal today.
Flood Watch - all regions of southern Quebec
Rapid temperature drop today from 13C (55F) now down to -8C (17F) overnight in Montreal.

What a wild weather ride we are on here in southern Quebec and Ontario. Toronto reached a high of 21.2C on Monday, over 70F. They are currently -1C with snow. Windsor has had about 7cm of snow overnight after being in the highs 20's. Meanwhile yesterday the warm front created a very sharp range of temperatures across the region. At one point as little as 40km separated temperatures near the freezing point from highs in the middle 20's. When the warm air finally arrived in Cornwall Ontario around 11am Monday, the temperature went from 14C to 25C in one hour. St Anicet near Valleyfield surpassed a long standing record with a high of 28.3 (83F) beating the old record of 26.7C from 1968. In Montreal we managed a high of 24.5 after a low of 2.2C, just amazing.

Not lost in all the temperature talk was about 20mm of rain in Montreal from late Sunday into Monday evening. The rain combined with rapid snow and ice melting continues to produce flooding across the entire region. A flood watch remains in effect for southern Quebec and northern Vermont and New York. More rain is in the forecast today along with increasing winds and dropping temperatures. Expect an area of precipitation to spread across eastern Ontario and into southern Quebec this morning. Rain will gradually mix with and change to snow by late today before ending near midnight. I expect a good 15-25mm of rain in most areas with perhaps 1-3cm of snow depending on what time your community changes over. This will vary from eastern Ontario which will occur early today to the US border by late this evening. Temperatures have reached the high for today and will drop to the freezing point by 7pm in Montreal and down to lows of -8C tonight. Wednesday will see sunshine and cool temperatures with highs around 2C.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Classic winter vs spring battle

Flooding has started in Laval from the Mille Iles River. (CTV Montreal)
You have to love Canada in April with every weather possible in the next 48 hours across portions of Ontario and Quebec. We have a stubborn cold air mass stuck in the St. Lawrence Valley right now. As is typical with a warm front to our south, northeast winds are keeping the temperature in check in Montreal as we sit at 3C (38F) while just to our south, Potsdam New York is 18C (65F) and Malone is 16C (61F). That warm air should surge into Montreal by midday as the low clouds and fog begin to burn off and we reach a high of 21 to 24C (70-75F).

We were treated to our first thunderstorm of the season last night here on L'Ile Perrot. Thunder with heavy rain, about 9mm, fell around 9pm last evening. The rain was not as bad Sunday in metro Montreal as expected but that did not stop areas rivers from rising. Flooding from rapid snow melt continues across the region and especially south of Montreal. Flooding has also reached the metro region with Laval reporting water on the rise from the Mille Iles and des Prairies Rivers. A flood watch remain in effect for the entire area from eastern Ontario across southern Quebec and into New York and Vermont.

A slow moving cold front will approach Montreal this afternoon with showers and thunderstorms developing by late today and becoming a steady rain on Tuesday. Anywhere from 15-30mm of rain is likely, which will increase the threat for flooding. The warm temperatures today will begin to fall into the low teens by Tuesday morning and then rapidly down towards freezing by late Tuesday. This drop in temperatures will allow precipitation to change from rain to freezing rain, sleet and wet snow across the Ottawa Valley, southern Ontario and eventually southern Quebec. A quick 5-10cm of slushy snow is not out of the question for many locations by the time the snow ends overnight into Wednesday morning. Temperatures will plummet to lows as cold as -9C in many areas of the province. There will be lots of icy spots around late Tuesday so be aware if you have travel plans. It all clears out Wednesday with a cold day but sunny, highs near 1C (33F).

The amount of snowfall will be very dependent on how fast the cold air filters into the region behind the cold front. This will be updated over the next 24 hours so check back often as well as my Twitter feed.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Flooding a major concern across region

Flood Watch posted for entire region.
At this time NO snowstorm for Montreal this week despite the rumours.

The winter of 2013-2014 continues to melt away at an alarming speed. Piles of snow across southern Quebec have disappeared into waterways and drainage systems within the last ten days. Remember it was just two weeks ago we had a 20cm snowstorm. The worst case scenario for major flooding will play out over the next few days. A very slow moving moisture laden storm system will affect southern Quebec from Sunday into early Wednesday morning along with very warm temperatures. Despite the rumours of an impending snowstorm, Montreal will be very mild with most of the precipitation falling in the form of rain. Any snow will be confined to central Quebec with perhaps flurries behind the storm late Tuesday.

The major flooding this week in St Clet west of Montreal, could be just the start of a long couple of weeks for several southern Quebec communities. Heavy rain and melting snow will produce more flooding this week. (Global News Photo)
We start with a sunny Saturday and mild temperatures up to 13C. Clouds increase tonight as a warm front approaches the city. Rain and thunderstorms will develop Sunday and be heavy at times with 15-25mm possible in Montreal. Any freezing rain or wet snow will be well north of the city. As the warm front crosses Montreal by midnight Sunday, temperatures will soar to 21C (70F) on Monday, even warmer if we see some sunny breaks. A slow moving cold front will cross the region late Monday into Tuesday with very heavy rain and scattered thunderstorms. Another 25-35mm of rain is possible on Tuesday. Securite Publique Quebec have flood watches posted for the region as the combination of melting ice and snow and heavy rain will produce flooding. Flooding is being reported across several rivers in southern Quebec including the Chateauguay at Huntingdon. Many other rivers are on the rise, a situation that will be complicated by the forecast for heavy rain. A flood watch is also in effect for northern New York and Vermont.

Late Tuesday much colder air will filter into the area behind the cold front changing any leftover rain to wet snow before ending in the overnight hours Wednesday. Very little accumulation is likely in Montreal at this time, temperatures will be very cold by Wednesday with highs only near 3C (39F).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

More rain for southern Quebec

SQ patrol cars block access Wednesday morning to the main road in the Village of St. Clet southwest of  metro Montreal. Flood waters began to recede on Wednesday allowing some residents to begin the clean up. (CBC News)
Another frontal system will cross southwest Quebec this evening with a shot of rain. We are not looking for large amounts of precipitation, but anything at this point is adding to the high water levels on southern Quebec rivers and lakes. Nearly 30mm of rain fell on Tuesday across the southwest portion of the province producing flash flooding. Especially hard hit was the municipality of St Clet not far west of my location. Over 200 homes had flooded basements along with several businesses and the main road through town. Police had to close several roads while firefighters helped evacuate 20 families as well as pump water from homes. The water level fell nearly 4 feet under sunny skies on Wednesday, so the worst may be over for that town. Such is not the case on other rivers including the Riviere Chaudiere which is producing minor flooding in St Georges. Also under a flood watch this morning are the Chateauguay near Huntingdon as well as the L'Acadie and Yamaska. South of the border the Chazy River has produced flooding in northeast New York including the Village of Champlain.

More showers are forecast today along with warm temperatures near 13C. It will remain warm into the weekend with highs near 15C and overnight lows above freezing, helping to melt away much of the remaining snow. However, the snow pack remain deep in the mountains of upstate New York and the Townships, as well ice cover is thick on many rivers and lakes which means we are far from over with the flood threat. Indications are we are in for quite a wet period beginning Sunday and lasting into Tuesday. Several low pressure areas will move along a stalled front and could produce 25-50mm of rain. The track and alignment of the front are still in question, but we will have to monitor this event as flood watches may have to be expanded. Montreal has a normal April rainfall of 67.7mm, through yesterday we are already at 47mm.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Flood potential increasing in southern Quebec

Several families near Carignan south of Montreal, had to be evacuated over the weekend as a result of spring flooding along the L'Acadie and Richelieu Rivers. 
(CBC News)
Urgence Quebec as well as local authorities across the Townships, Beauce and into the Monteregie, are keeping on eye on several rivers including the L'Acadie, Richelieu and Yamaska for flooding. Already over the weekend several families had to be evacuated near Carignan on the South Shore as a result of ice jam flooding on the L'Acadie River. Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft have been breaking ice on both the Yamaska and Chateuguay Rivers for several days. As expected the region has rapidly made the jump from severe cold and snow to spring warmth. The result has been a rapid decrease in snowpack as well as sharp rises on area rivers breaking up thick ice.

To add to this worsening scenario was nearly 20mm of rain on Friday and the arrival of another moisture laden system this evening into Tuesday. Low pressure over Texas will move towards the Great Lakes and down the St. Lawrence Valley on Tuesday. After sunshine and warm highs of close to 13C Monday in Montreal, clouds will thicken rapidly this evening. Rain, heavy at times, is forecast to develop this evening and taper to showers Tuesday morning, lows near 5C and temperatures not much warmer Tuesday. Expect 25-35mm, over one inch of rain for the region. This will increase runoff adding to the concern for flooding. A heavy rain warning has been issued by Environment Canada as well as a flood watch by Urgence Quebec for the southern portion of the province. In Montreal and especially flood prone Laval, area rivers are slowly rising but are still considered normal. Behind the system on Wednesday we can expect blustery conditions with perhaps a snowflake or two and much colder highs of 4C.

Friday, April 04, 2014

April showers help melt the March snow

It does not surprise me at all that we are off to such a slow start to spring in Montreal. After a couple of plus 5C highs to start April, we only managed 3C on Thursday, despite wall to wall sunshine. The culprit is and will continue to be cold winds produced by the ice covered St. Lawrence River. It goes beyond that with ice covering 70% of the Great Lakes after coming down from a near record high of 93%. Portions of Lake Superior are still 90% ice covered. This will greatly affect the spring daytime temperatures, capping them at least as long as the ice and the dense piles of snow remain in and around Ontario and Quebec. It is melting slowly, especially those fortunate enough to have direct sunlight all day.

Numerous ships are laboring through ice as thick as 8 feet on the Great Lakes as the Seaway has opened but to a very slow start. (Photo Boat Nerd Facebook Page)
Friday will be another sunny day with increasing clouds across eastern Ontario and southern Quebec. We have a storm system over the central US that will move towards the Great Lakes. This system will push a warm front across Ontario and Quebec with rain developing this evening and tapering off Saturday. Expect a good 10-20mm of rain across the region. Some areas north and east of Montreal may see some freezing rain or sleet tonight mixed with the rain. Snow is likely across far northwest Quebec and northeast Ontario. Thunderstorms may even pop up in extreme southern Ontario. Temperatures will be mild in Montreal up to 6C today and Saturday with lows near 4C. Look for gusty winds as well, up to 50km/h tonight and 70km/h on Saturday. Sunday looks sunny and mild at this time with a high up to 9C.

The St. Lawrence/Great Lakes Seaway opened the 2014 shipping season on March 28 with the Algoma Equinox moving through Lock 3 of the Welland Canal. About a dozen or so ships are currently in the system but are being slowed considerably by the thick ice. Yesterday several ships moved along in a convoy through ice as thick as 8 feet on Lake Superior towards the Soo Locks. They were led by two Coast Guard ice breakers, one from the Canada, the Pierre Radison and another form the USCG, the Mackinaw. Up to 5 ice breakers are working in the St. Lawrence with two tugboats trying to free up the St. Lambert locks and port area. Work will continue to free the entire system  from ice which took until April 27 last year and may last well into May this year according to the Canadian Coast Guard. The Seaway stretches from Duluth, Minnesota to Montreal.