Monday, May 31, 2010

Smoky morning

Smoke reduces visibility over Montreal this morning. (CBC photo)

Vacation is over! It was a great two weeks in North Carolina but all good things must come to an end and reality settle in. When I arrived home yesterday, I was amazed to see how much grass can grow over a two week period. Equally amazing was how dry the soil was. I was pushing more dust around the neighborhood than grass clippings. Montreal has received only 38mm of rain this month, with most of that falling before the 15th.

That brings me to this morning. I had our windows open last night and thought our house was on fire at about 3am this morning. During the overnight, the wind shifted out of the northeast ahead of a warm front and brought smoke from the forest fires north of Montreal into the city. The thick haze is covering the city this morning with a distinct smell of burning forest in the air. These conditions will prevail most of the day with a shift in wind cleaning the air out slightly this afternoon. Nearly 55 fires are burning in the province with 8 out of control. About 1,200 firefighters, including some from Maine, New Brunswick, New Hampshire and Western Canada, are working to put the fires out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Heat Index over 100F

Montreal shattered its record high temperature yesterday at 34.7C, the previous record was 28.3 set in 1951. With the high humidity it felt like 40C or over 100F. The heat was stifled in the late afternoon when a fast moving line of thunderstorms moved from north to south across the island and into upstate New York. The fast moving storms dumped very little rain but produced high winds toppling some trees and a lightning strike that set a Hampstead home on fire. The temperature is a natural air conditioned 16C this morning and we will warm to a normal 25C. It will warm again over the weekend with an increase in humidity as well. The threat of thunderstorms has moved into the lower Hudson Valley today and metro New York City into the Middle Atlantic. To show you the effects of that rapidly moving cold front, yesterday at 4pm the temperature was 34C (95F) in Montreal while it was only 22C (72F) in Quebec City. Other record highs yesterday were 91F in Burlington and an amazing 99F in Hartford.

Here on the Outer Banks we are into our last full day. The forecast is improving with the effects of that coastal low diminishing. Temperatures will warm into the 80's today with seas and winds subsiding. We are off to Ocracoke Island for one last frolic on the beach. Then back north tomorrow through that front that is producing the severe weather. I may have some decent pictures by the end of the day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Record heat

The rough surf on Hatteras Island reveals a shipwrecked barge from 1933. ValleyWX Pic

Lots to talk about on this Wednesday morning both here in North Carolina and at home in Montreal. First in Montreal, another record setting hot day is on tap before a backdoor cold front slices across the St. Lawrence Valley dropping temperatures by at least 10 degrees. yesterday Montreal reached 32C while Ottawa was 33C with a heat index of over 40C. Ottawa Hydro and Hydro 1 in Ontario are asking consumers to conserve power where possible. Meanwhile in Quebec the high heat and dry weather has elevated concerns about forest fires both in Montreal and across southern and central Quebec. Any outdoor burning is now prohibited until further notice by the provincial government.

Here in North Carolina on Hatteras Island the surf put on quite a show yesterday. Waves were running 4-7 feet with the beach virtually disappearing at high tide (photo 2). Some showers occurred as well with gusty northeast winds up to 30mph. The low pressure area causing this rough surf was located about 250 miles southeast of Cape Lookout. It generated enough interest to have The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel broadcast from Buxton this morning. The system will begin to move back out to sea with improving and warming conditions along the coast later today. Yesterday just at the end of our street along the beachfront, the rough surf uncovered the Flambeau wreck (named for the road it sits near). This is an iron and wood barge believed to have been grounded during a storm in 1933. I took photos in the morning when just a few metal bolts were visible (top photo), by the end of the day the entire outline of the barge was showing (photo 2). I am off this morning to see how much more is now visible.

More Outer Banks excitement yesterday as one of the ferries that runs between Ocracoke and Hatteras Island ran aground on a shoal in Hatteras Inlet and had to be towed off it. We have been on these boats dozens of times without incident but noticed on the weekend that they were having trouble with the narrowing channel. There were 27 vehicles and 45 passengers on board, but no injuries were reported. (See complete story here).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Record Heat

The satellite image this morning of the Atlantic east of North Carolina shows low pressure developing. As a result, high waves and surf are pounding the southeast coast today.

The heat is on in southern Quebec today. Temperatures will soar into the 30's, with a heat index pushing over 37C or 100F in both Montreal and Ottawa. The record high for Montreal today was 30.7C set in 2007, so it may fall. Skies will be hazy and the heat should last into the end of the week before a backdoor cold front cools off the region.

Here on the Outer Banks, low pressure continues to develop in the Bahamas and move very slowly towards the Carolina coast. The National Hurricane Center is monitoring the system, but the feeling is it will not reach tropical storm status at this time. Despite the lack of tropical characteristics, the surf continues to pound the coast this morning with rip currents and some beach erosion. A High Surf Advisory is in effect for coastal Dare and Hyde Counties through Wednesday. Seas along the beach are running 2-3 feet this morning and will increase 4-7 feet this afternoon. Winds are also on the increase out of the northeast between 15-25 mph.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The heat is on

Offshore thunderstorm cumulus clouds play with the moon last night on Hatteras Island, North Carolina.

Hot weather is streaming north into Quebec and Ontario on this holiday Monday. Temperatures under sunny and hazy skies will reach 30 to 32C (85-90F) in Montreal and eastern Ontario as well as northern New York. It could be a record breaker today, the previous record high for Montreal was 30.6C set in 2007. The weather will remain warm for the balance of the week before a cold front drops across the region by Friday.

Meanwhile we had a spectacular weekend here on the Outer Banks. Sunshine and 80 degree weather allowed us to kayak and beach it for most of the weekend. Last night an upper level low that has been keeping inland areas of the Carolina's wet yesterday began to produce an onshore flow. The result was a thundery rain most of the overnight that has continued into this morning. Some areas along the immediate coast have reported as much as 3 inches of rain. It was a spectacular evening last night with clear, moonlit skies on Hatteras Island, but just offshore in the Atlantic towering cumulus clouds put on a vivid lightning display. Combine that with the frequent glow from the Cape Hatteras lighthouse and it was a treat for the senses.

Now our attention turns to the tropical Atlantic. Low pressure is developing over the Bahamas and is expected to move slowly northwest towards the coast. Most models are predicting it to remain offshore. The counterclockwise flow around this system, combined with high pressure over New England will produce an onshore flow. A Coastal Weather Statement is indicating a high risk of rip currents as tides and swells begin to build along area beaches today. The storm will also increase winds along the coast to 15-25mph. At this time the low pressure is expected to remain offshore with just a slight probability of actually being named. The Outer Banks can expect gusty winds and high surf with some beach erosion, but at this time ocean overwash does not look likely. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tropical threat?

Sunset over Pamlico Sound
I took the ferry back from Ocracoke Island at sunset last night. This is by far the best free ride/entertainment on the planet.

The weather is turning more summer like across eastern North America. High pressure will pump warm humid air up the eastern coast all the way into southern Quebec and eastern Ontario. Montreal will likely see its first 90 degree (32C) day this week. meanwhile that same high pressure will capture low pressure developing over the Bahamas, and depending on which computer model you believe bring it back towards the southeast coast as perhaps the first tropical system of the season. The season officially begins June 1, but really mother nature does not follow that schedule. Tropical systems have developed in just about every moth of the year.

If the scenario plays out as the European model would like it to, strong gale force winds and heavy rain could affect us here on the Outer Banks as early as late Monday. There is still lots of uncertainty with this forecast, but it bears close watching which I plan on doing from my vantage point 3 lots back from the mighty Atlantic. In any event warmer and more humid air is upon us, we are currently 74F with 82% RH here in Hatteras. Thunderstorms are a possibility this week at anytime in the sticky air. I will keep you up to date on this tropical threat. If the storm develops and is named, it would be called Alex. TROPICAL UPDATE HERE

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cape Hatteras Light

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in the Village of Buxton here on Hatteras Island is the symbol of the Outer Banks and coastal North Carolina. The lighthouse was constructed in 1870 and has stood the test of pounding surf and tremendous storms not to mention the salty air and a move. In 1999 the lighthouse was moved in an impressive operation about 1/2 mile inland. The 208 foot lighthouse, the tallest in the country, was in danger of tumbling into the relentless surf. Cape Point close to where the lighthouse is located is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Pounding surf and constantly shifting tides are the result of the meeting of both the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current. We visited the lighthouse yesterday, which is open to climbing, although we didn't this year. I took the picture on the right through the keepers quarters window. What a sight to wake up to every morning.
The lighthouse is visible from many parts of the island. Yesterday we walked the beach from Hatteras to Frisco about 5km north of here with the lighthouse in view in the distance the entire time.

The weather here has improved with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's. The cool Atlantic waters are keeping the temperature in check here at the coast while it is rising into the 80's inland.

Weekend Update for Montreal
The weather in Montreal, Ontario and Quebec will turn HOT. After a cooler than normal weekend the heat will be on next week with humid, hazy weather and temperatures soaring into the 30's.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sunshine on Hatteras

A Hatteras Island fishing boat heads out into the Atlantic through Hatteras Inlet. ValleyWX Pic

The weather will do a flip today with sunshine and warm temperatures here on Hatteras Island and showers and thunderstorms back in Montreal. Both places will be mild today with temperatures in the 24 to 27C range. It will become increasingly more summer like along the entire eastern seaboard into the weekend with warm air extending all the way into southern Quebec. temperatures under sunny skies will reach close to 30C (86F) near Montreal and the upper 20's (75-85F) here along the coast of North Carolina.

Yesterday despite the cool weather and clouds I took the ferry over to Ocracoke Island. This is an awesome 40 minute ride across Hatteras inlet that I have done so many times before, and it did not disappoint again. The island is the southern most along the Outer Banks. It is a mere 12 miles long and about a half mile wide with a charming village at its southern tip and one road, State Highway 12, connecting the village to the ferry terminal. It is home to the Ocracoke Lighthouse, Ocracoke Ponies and of course Howard's Pub. Most of the island is controlled by the National Park Service, so the beaches are wide, flat and undisturbed. We took a walk at the northern end of the island and it felt like we were the only two people on earth. Walking along the sand bars and spits collecting seashells on a Wednesday afternoon is probably, for me, the best that life has to offer. I love this place.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Unsettled on the coast

Kitty Hawk Ocean Rescue training in the surf yesterday.

Heavy rain continued along the coast of North Carolina yesterday with one to two inches in many locations. I drove north about an hour or so to Nags Head in a gusty onshore wind and steady rain. Skies cleared a little in the afternoon and the precipitation ended. We are hoping to have some sunshine today, but it remains unsettled with the risk of thunderstorms. Temperatures have been around 23C which is a little below normal for mid-May. The seas were a little rough yesterday as well. I walked the beach in Kitty Hawk and took some photos (above) of the Ocean Rescue training in 60 degree water.

Today it is off to Ocracoke Island, chasing the sunshine south. That stubborn front remains nearly stationary with warmer air south and much cooler air north of us. I am noticing a line of thunderstorms to our southwest - so I may have some decent storm photos later on today. One thing is for certain, a cloudy day on Hatteras is still 1000 times better than a sunny day at work or really anywhere else!

More sunshine...but not here

Wind surfing on the Atlantic yesterday. This is a very popular sport for many on Hatteras Island, including many Canadians down here this week.

Greetings once again from Hatteras Island. The surf is up this morning with a moderate risk of rip currents, so activities may not involve water today, except for the rain. Heavy rain that remained along the coastal plain yesterday nudged its way onto Hatteras Island at around 4am this morning (I had to shut the patio door, it sounded like the ocean was in the house). The rain continues this morning with a gusty south wind but should taper off later today. No thunder yet, about 1-3 inches of rain has fallen across North Carolina since yesterday morning. Flooding was reported along the I-95 corridor near Rocky Mount yesterday and overnight.

As far as Montreal goes, great week for me to be away. Sunny skies and warm temperatures all week would likely mean not much to talk about on the blog. Enjoy the weather and the upcoming long weekend.

I will have pictures from Cape Hatteras and Nags Head later today.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The 23 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel connects the Eastern Shore to Virginia Beach crossing the Chesapeake Bay where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Just an awesome driving experience!

What a spectacular morning and weather week in southern Quebec. Temperatures are warming quickly from an overnight low of 6C to the current reading of 19C. This week will be sunny and warm as high pressure dominates the St. Lawrence Valley. A low pressure and frontal system will remain south of Ontario and Quebec. Temperatures will warm to 27C by weeks end.

I am finally back where I belong, Hatteras Island, North Carolina. This is my 11th trip down here over the last 19 years, the first since 2007. The region is part of a delicate narrow band of barrier islands extending from the Virginia border south to South Carolina. The main Outer Banks consists of three islands, Bodie, Hatteras and Ocracoke. I am on the middle island, in the Village of Hatteras just south of the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The banks have been shaped by wind and water, with the region rich in maritime and weather history, right up my alley. We are tangling with a stationary front these days, so scattered thunderstorms, some severe and humid with temperatures near 75F or 24C, just perfect for me. The beach was beautiful this morning, but much shorter than I remember it in 2007. Several major storms have passed off the Outer Banks in the last year causing heavy beach erosion. I will have some photos at the end of today.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hello from Maryland

Well I am finally into the 21st century and blogging on a new laptop on the road. I am in Pocomoke City on Maryland's eastern shore for the night as I head south to North Carolina and Hatteras Island for some much needed R & R and to re-energize. I drove a little over 1000 kilometres today under sunny skies and quite warm temperatures once we drove into Delaware and Maryland.

Last night a gusty potent little thunderstorm went through Montreal at midnight with lots of thunder and vivid lightning and about 7mm of rain. This morning winds were gusty and it was quite chilly when I left at 5am. Today while driving in sunshine and increasingly warmer temperatures it was about 17C in Montreal. By the way on a non-weather rant, I can't believe how much fun it is to drive in New Jersey. It is probably the only place where a Quebec driver going 75mph can be passed by everyone other car. Crazy!

Anyway I hope to post some pictures over the next week or so, once I get a USB cord for the digital. In the meantime be good and enjoy the increasing sunshine and warmth in Montreal as I head towards the May long weekend.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cool May weather continues

Sorry times life gets in the way of weather. In the case of this week, upcoming vacation and silliness at work have prevented me from blogging as much. Throw in a little thing called the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and well I have been busy. GO HABS GO! My allegiance to this team has been very clear since the day I was born in Montreal to parents who were Canadiens fans. You are born and slapped on the but and told Montreal good, Toronto bad. It stays with you.

Anyway back to the weather. It has been a rather traquil week with scattered frost across the area. I had a little on the roof of my car this morning on Ile Perrot southwest of downtown Montreal. The sunshine will warm us up to about 17C today. A week frontal boundary will provide us with some showers Friday and early Saturday before a sunny and cool day Sunday. It appears the warmer weather will try to make a run at the region early next week. We may see a 22 or 25C day by Wednesday.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frost Warning

It was not a snowstorm, but snow on May 9th was not a welcome sight. About 0.2cm fell at the airport with as much as 1cm off island. The temperature recovered slightly Sunday to a balmy 5C but fell just below freezing this morning. A light breeze kept away any frost but such will not be the case tonight. Under clear skies and calm winds we can expect lows below freezing with frost and freeze warnings in effect across the region including Montreal, Ottawa and south into New York and New England. Cover up any flowers or tender vegetation and say goodbye to your tulips! A slow warming trend is expected for the balance of the week.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Snow on Mother's Day

Above: Snow is falling in Montreal this morning. ValleyWX
Happy Mother's Day

What a spring it has been across this great country of ours. The mercury is on a roller coaster that has witnessed 27C weather on Easter back at the start of April, followed by a record April snowstorm with more snow than the previous 2 months combined, followed by 30C humid heat last Sunday and finally snow this morning. It is currently 1C in both Montreal and Ottawa with snow and a gusty northwest wind to 40km/h making it feel raw and chilly outside. That big storm that produced blizzard conditions in Alberta and severe weather stateside is sweeping east of Montreal today. In the last 24 hours, the storm produced high winds of over 100km/h with widespread damage in Ontario, and enough snow to close Highway 117 in central Quebec as well as a record breaking 7cm snowfall in North Bay. This morning, radar is showing the back edge of the precipitation has changed to snow. As you can see above it is coating the car but not much else on Ile Perrot. Our tulips are taking a beating and look ready to give up. A frost warning is in effect for the suburbs of Montreal for tonight with low temperatures expected below freezing for several hours. Winds and light scattered precipitation will continue for today across the region.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Weekend Update

A strong cold front swept into Montreal yesterday morning producing several lines of thunderstorms, strong winds and hail. A peak gust of 80km/h was reported at Dorval during a thunderstorm at 11am. This morning clearing skies and much cooler temperatures are left behind the departing front. The weekend forecast is not looking so good at the moment. That storm that affected western Canada with heavy snow is expected to sweep across the Great Lakes and into Quebec. Steady rain, between 20-40mm is forecast for Ontario and Quebec with some thunderstorms as well. Heavy May snow is expected in northern Ontario. There is even the risk of some flurries on Sunday in our region at higher elevations. Behind the storm strong west winds will develop and gust between 60-100km/h along with very cold weather for Mother's Day with high temperatures struggling to hit 7C on Sunday in Montreal. It will remain chilly well into the upcoming week.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

May Blizzard

The Yellowhead Highway in Edmonton yesterday. (Edmonton Journal Photo)

As Montreal basked in summer warmth with thunderstorms, Alberta was being hit by the second spring blizzard in as many weeks. Nearly 16cm of snow surprised Edmonton yesterday with fierce winds. The storm was expected to affect mostly the southern portion of the province, but a heavy band of wet snow set up over the city. Amounts ranged from 7cm in Spruce Grove to 16cm on the east side of town. The strong winds created havoc on area highways with reduced visibility. Winds were gusting over 60km/h in Edmonton and as high as 113km/h in Onefor. Snow continues today in the southeast part of the province and into southwest Saskatchewan and northern Montana. The storm also delayed flights in Calgary and Edmonton and cut power to over 15,000 hydro customers.

Meanwhile eastern Ontario and Montreal had temperatures over 20C yesterday with thunderstorms. Some storms in Ontario became severe with gusty winds over 80km/h and small hail. Today will be sunny and 22C with more showers by weeks end. The Mother's Day weekend, sorry to say, looks rainy, windy and cold as the western system moves east.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

More snow for Calgary

The latest spring snowstorm is sweeping across the northern Rockies with heavy snow across southern Alberta and extreme southwest Saskatchewan. Winter storm warnings are in effect with 10-15cm of wet snow forecast from the foothills southeast into the Cypress Hills. Winds are a big problem with this system and have been gusting over 100km/h in Alberta, Montana and the Dakotas. A gust to 106km/h was reported this morning at Bassano in Alberta and 85km/h at Calgary.

On the east side of the storm more warm and muggy air will feed thunderstorms across the Midwest. In our region another cold front is producing showers and thunderstorms today with the biggest threat being heavy downpours and perhaps small hail. A gusty storm went through the Montreal region at around 7am this morning with strong winds.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Tropical air mass

AP Photo of severe flash flooding in Nashville Saturday.

It is hard to believe we had a humidex reading of 30C and and overnight low of 19C in Montreal during the same week we had a snowstorm, but hey here we are. Yesterday was very muggy across the eastern two thirds of North America as a steady stream of humid air poured northward. Montreal reached 26C but it was much warmer in Vermont and New York with temperatures approaching 30C. The warmest place in the US over the weekend was Norfolk, VA at 36C. The same areas that had 2 feet of snow on Tuesday were over 80F yesterday. This morning numerous showers and thunderstorms are around the St. Lawrence Valley as a cold front approaches from the west. The front will move the humid air off to the south and east and clearing skies will ensue with winds increasing out of the northwest from 30-50km/h.

Over the weekend this same air mass produced unprecedented flooding across the southern sates including Tennessee where nearly 8 inches of rain produced severe flooding in Nashville closing Interstates and washing away cars, homes and people. The death toll is at 15 from the weekend storms including several deaths in Arkansas from tornadoes and sever thunderstorms. The heavy storms are along the Gulf Coast today from Louisiana to Florida and Georgia. The storms along the Gulf Coast are hampering the US Coast Guard in clean up efforts (see National Geographic photo above) in one of the worst oil spills in US history. Millions of litres of oil are spreading north from an uncapped British Petro (BP) oil well in the Gulf of Mexico towards the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coasts. Already marine life is washing up along the shores and fishing has been suspended for at least the next 10 days. Rough seas and storms over the weekend made it difficult to set up booms and skim the oil off the surface of the Gulf.