Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Summer warmth well into September for Montreal

A spectacular rainbow over Montreal late last week. Summery weather is forecast for at least the next week. (ValleyWeather)
Welcome to meteorological fall. I love September, in recent years the month has been a perfect mix of summer warmth, but with cooler nights for sleeping. It was not always that way for me, as a child it meant going back to school, and I loved summer too much. It seems that back when I was younger the start of September almost always introduced cooler fall weather. But in recent years, whether through global warming or other factors, September has become an extension of summer.

That brings us to September 2015 and an incredible spell of weather. High pressure is forecast to dominate the weather right through the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Each morning begins the same way with low clouds and fog developing. This is a result of the humid air and longer nights. Once the clouds burn off we can expect sunshine. The sunny weather will last into the weekend. The only glitch will be a weak backdoor cold front overnight tonight that will bring the threat for showers and thunderstorms. Thursday and Friday will be a touch cooler and less humid. High temperatures through the next week will range in the middle to upper 20's with lows in the upper teens. The extended forecast is showing a very warm September with above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for southern Quebec.

Monday, August 31, 2015

B.C. windstorm injures one - 500,000 without power

A worker surveys a crushed car in Vancouver on Saturday. (CBC)
A fierce windstorm slammed the southern B.C. coast on Saturday with winds gusting to 100km/h. The combination of strong winds, a full canopy of leaves on the trees and drought brought down thousands of trees on power lines, cars and homes. One woman was seriously injured in Surrey when she was struck by a falling tree. B.C. Hydro reported nearly 500,000 without power at the height of the storm Saturday, most of those in metro Vancouver. That number has dropped to 90,000 this morning with crews working non-stop to remove trees and repair poles and lines. Damage will likely run into the millions of dollars if the pictures are any indication.

Vancouver on Saturday. (Photo: Jarett Kemp via Twitter.)
Meanwhile it was a busy weather weekend in the tropics with 5 separate systems. Two storms were in the Atlantic with three in the Pacific. Tropical storm Ericka moved across Cuba will weakening rapidly. This morning she is nothing more than a summer rainstorm soaking south Florida with up to 100mm (4 inches) or rain. Erika devastated the tiny island of Dominica on Friday with flash floods and mudslides killing at least 20 with 50 missing. On Saturday Fred developed and became a hurricane in the far eastern Atlantic. This is the first time a hurricane has developed so far east. Hurricane Fred is located 55 km south of the Cape Verde Islands this morning with 80mph winds. It is unlikely that Fred will affect North America as it remain out at sea.

Despite the calendar indicating summer is coming to an end, southern Quebec and metro Montreal are in for a warm and humid stretch of weather. High pressure will bring us lots of sunshine with increasing heat and humidity throughout the week. Temperatures will range from 27 to 31C (81 to 88F) with warm overnight lows of 17 to 20C (63 to 70F). These conditions are forecast right into Labor Day weekend. At this time the only chance for any precipitation may be Wednesday afternoon with a shower or thunderstorm possible.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

A striking image of a helicopter rescue in New Orleans, one of thousands in the days following Hurricane Katrina. The storm caused unprecedented death and destruction in August 2005.
It was 10 years ago on August 29th, 2005 that Hurricane Katrina roared inland in the pre-dawn hours near Waveland, Mississippi just east of metro New Orleans. The storm and its wild aftermath would become the worst natural disaster in modern U.S. history. I have been tracking Atlantic Hurricanes since 1979, and up until that morning in 2005, a little storm named Camille from 1969 was the benchmark hurricane along the Gulf Coast. Camille was the storm weather enthusiasts and those who follow hurricanes knew very well. Camille made landfall near Pass Christian, Mississippi on August 14, 1969 with a 20 foot surge of water and winds over 150mph. The storm virtually wiped out a portion of the Mississippi Gulf Coast along with the lives of 260 people.

Hurricane Katrina would be far worse reaching Category 5 status on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the strongest level in the Atlantic Basin, before "weakening" slightly before landfall. The storm surge, the wall of water that precedes a hurricane, would reach an astonishing 28 feet almost at the same location as Camille. The surge swept away everything in its path, and put a tremendous strain on the levees that surround New Orleans. They would fail catastrophically and put 80 percent of the city under 20 feet or more of water and debris. Damage was complete in many communities and the death toll mounted rapidly with bodies floating in the streets. Officially 1800 would perish from the storm along the Gulf Coast, but unofficially over 3000 are estimated to have died or went missing in the storm and the human catastrophe that followed. It took several days for proper relief to arrive and years for the city to begin recovery. Damage estimates from Hurricane Katrina exceeded 100 billion dollars, the costliest natural disaster in US history. To this day deep scars remain in the city.

Major flooding in Dominica has resulted in at least 2 dozen deaths.

So it seems ironic that on the anniversary weekend of Katrina, we have another storm poised to impact the US coast. Tropical storm Erika is approaching the Dominican Republic this morning with 50mph winds. Heavy rain is forecast along the track today with very little change in strength. If the storm holds together in a less than friendly environment, it will approach the Florida east coast early next week. Although weak in nature as far as tropical systems go, Erika produced over 1 foot of rain on the tiny island of Dominica triggering massive floods. The island has been devastated in the last 24 hours with over 24 deaths reported.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tropical activity increasing in the Atlantic basin

The National Hurricane Center forecast track for tropical storm Erika. Erika may approach Florida by the weekend.
It has been a very quiet tropical season in the Atlantic basin, mostly due to the presence of a strengthening El Nino. This feature alters global air patterns and increases the amount of dust blowing off the African continent as well as increasing wind shear along the favorable growth zones for Atlantic tropical storms.

Those factors mentioned above tend to hinder major development in the Atlantic Basin during El Nino years. That being said, we are in the most favorable months for storms to develop in the Caribbean and Atlantic, August and September. This week we have already watched the rapid development and subsequent  rapid weakening of Hurricane Danny. Today we have tropical storm Erika about 800 miles east of the Leeward Islands. Erika has 45mph winds and a gradual increase in strength is forecast this week. A tropical storm watch has been posted for the Leeward Islands. Beyond that and looking ahead to the weekend, if Erika can avoid the sheer that destroyed Danny, she may pose a threat to the US southeast. Before the US she will likely affect Puerto Rico and perhaps the Bahamas.

Monday was a rather warm and muggy day across southern Quebec with temperatures close to 29C (85F). Widely scattered showers and late evening thunderstorms developed along a weak cold front. The precipitation missed L'Ile Perrot with just a trace here, but affected the South Shore and east end of Montreal Island, especially late last evening. This morning we have partly cloudy skies and cooler temperatures at 15C (59F). Expect sunshine today with just a slight chance of an afternoon shower and a seasonable high of 25C (77F). Expect very similar conditions for Wednesday.

Friday, August 21, 2015

July 2015 - warmest in recent memory for the planet

July was warm right across the globe. (NOAA) Click image for more detail.

It is no surprise that July is typically the warmest month of the year on average across the globe. But according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this past July was the warmest for the planet since record keeping began in 1880. With an average temperature of 16.61C (61.86F), July 2015 surpassed the previous record from 1998 by 0.08C (0.14F). It may not seem significant, but it is and you can see the results this summer.

Here in North America we have had widespread heat and drought from B.C. and the northwest to the southwest and into the deep southern portion of the US. Wildfires have been raging out of control in California, Washington, B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan most of the summer. Temperatures have soared as high as 40C in B.C. and Saskatchewan. Montreal and most of southern Quebec just finished its longest stretch of 30C plus weather in quite some time with officially 4 days at Trudeau Airport but many other locations had up to 6 days. This included high temperatures near 34C on Wednesday and humidex values approaching 40C. On a worldwide scale, intense heat has gripped widespread portions of Europe and Asia this summer. On July 31st in Bandar Mahshahr, Iran, one of the warmest real feel temperatures, (temperature + humidity) ever recorded on the planet was observed at 74C (165F).

In addition to the land temperature, sea surface reading have been 1.35F above the 20th Century average, surpassing the previous high established just last year. Weather you subscribe to the theory of global warming and climate change or not, it is definitely getting warmer for the current period in the life of our planet.

For the short term, after the passage of the cold front last night, we can expect cooler more comfortable weather all weekend. Expect abundant sunshine across southern Quebec and eastern Ontario with high temperatures near 26C (79F) and lows down near 15C (59F). The next chance for showers and thunderstorms will be late Sunday into Monday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hot & Humid Montreal

A spectacular photo of the intense lightning taken by Quebec Vortex last night on the South Shore in La Prairie. More on Quebec Vortex at this link. 
Our longest and hottest heatwave of the summer is moving into its 5th day in Montreal with temperatures expected to reach 32C (90F) today. If it does, it will set a record high for the date, the previous being 31.7C (89F) in 1960. Yesterday Trudeau Airport had a poorly timed shower around 4pm, enough to drop the temperature down a degree or two, preventing us from a record high by a few tenths of a degree. The official high was 31C (88F) but most other reporting stations around the island including here on L'Ile Perrot, reached 33C (91F).

The airport is typically cooler as the breeze of Lac St. Louis can knock the temperature down a couple of degrees. It remained very warm and muggy overnight with lows in the middle 20's. Last evening a spectacular thunderstorm with lots of vivid lightning moved from the South Shore across the downtown area around 10pm. The storm dumped only 2mm of rain here on L'Ile Perrot but 5mm at the airport in Dorval and 20mm downtown at the McTavish station.

High pressure off the US east coast will continue to pump warm and humid air north into southern Quebec today. The heat advisory remains in effect as humidex values are forecast to exceed 40C (104F) this afternoon. As with Tuesday, there remains a risk of thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. Tonight will be muggy again with warm overnight lows of 24C (76F) in the city. On Thursday a cold front will approach eastern Ontario and western Quebec with showers and thunderstorms by late in the day. It will be warm again with a forecast high of 30C (86F). Cooler air with lower humidity arrives by the weekend.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hot & humid weather for southern Ontario & Quebec

Warm and humid air streaming north into southern Quebec will make it feel close to 40C in Montreal. (
Some of the warmest air this summer is streaming north into southern Ontario and Quebec. It has been hot right across the country with temperatures well into the 30's and even pushing 40C (104F) in western Canada. Montreal officially managed 29C (85F) at Trudeau Airport on Sunday but it was well over 30C in most other locations away from the typically cooler airport. The high temperature reached 31.5C (88F) at my home on L'Ile Perrot, as well as in St Anicet, Ottawa and Cornwall.

As the heat and humidity continues to build in the east, heat warnings have been issued across Ontario and southwest Quebec. Typically they are posted when a combination of the warm temperatures and elevated humidity make it feel warmer than 40C. It will be that way to start the week for Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Hazy sunshine will dominate the weather with perhaps some scattered thunderstorms by Wednesday. High temperatures will range from 30 to 35C (86 to 95F) across the region. Overnight lows will remain warm near 21C (70F). We can expect these conditions through Thursday.

A massive wildfire burning out of control near Oliver, B.C has forced hundreds of evacuations. (Photo via twitter @stucktweet)
B.C. Wildfires
In British Columbia, the hot and bone dry weather has been accompanied by sporadic lightning. Numerous major wildfires have developed over the last week including the Rock Creek fire near Oliver, B.C. This fire, which may have been started by a single cigarette, has consumed more than 3,750 hectares and is 0 percent contained. The fire has forced the evacuations of more than 600 residents and destroyed 30 homes. Since April over 1600 fires have been reported in tinder dry B.C., most of those in the southern interior and Okanogan Valley. The fires have burned over 290 square kilometers. Fires are also burning in neighbouring Washington Sate. Some relief in the weather is expected this week with cooler temperatures and lighter winds as well as less lightning.