Thursday, June 30, 2011

Weekend Update

Lots to mention this morning so we will start with the upcoming long holiday weekend. Both Canada Day and the 4th of July are this weekend - so travel with care. The last two weekends on local roads have been terrible, slow down, both hands on the wheel and pull over to text. Police on both sides of the border in Quebec and New York are teaming up as they did during the Easter long weekend to enforce all the rules of the road, look for them in numbers starting today. The weather is very cool and almost fall like this morning in Montreal. A gusty northwest wind and 15C temperatures is more like late September. It will be short lived as we are just on the edge of a very warm and humid air mass that is spreading into most of central and eastern North America. Temperatures will rise rapidly to near 30C by Saturday and will prevail into next week. It will be humid as well with the risk of thunderstorms by Sunday. It was very warm across Manitoba and the northern plains yesterday with humidex reading into the 40's.

TROPICAL STORM ARLENE moved inland this morning along the Mexican Gulf Coast near Cabo Rojo. Winds were about 65mph at landfall. Heavy rain will spread inland today with 4 to 8 inches forecast and as much as 15 inches over the mountainous terrain. Historically these storms become deadly as they move inland over Mexico with the heavy rain producing flash floods and mudslides. This will be a great concern for at least the next 48 hours.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tropical Storm Arlene

NOAA image of Tropical Storm Arlene this morning in the Gulf of Mexico.

The first tropical system in the Atlantic basin for 2011 has formed in the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical storm Arlene, lies southeast of Tampico, Mexico with 40mph winds. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for the northeastern Mexico coast. The storm is expected to gain some strength but remain a tropical storm with winds approaching 65mph prior to landfall late Thursday. The system will be a big rain maker for portions of the coast as well as inland. The rain may even reach northward into the parched Rio Grande Valley of south Texas.

MONTREAL: We managed to avoid any heavy thunderstorms yesterday here in the city with the bulk of the activity moving off to the north into the lower Laurentians and Ottawa Valley. We can expect a cooler day with widely scattered showers and thunderstorms today. Temperatures will be around 21C. Conditions will slowly improve tomorrow and it should be a decent holiday weekend on both sides of the border with partly sunny skies, increasing humidity and temperatures warming to near 30C Saturday. Sunday will be warm and humid with a risk of showers or thunderstorms but it should be decent.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Severe Thunderstorm Update

Strong thunderstorms are beginning to weaken across eastern Ontario. A well defined line stretches from the lower Laurentians into the St. Lawrence Valley and is moving east towards Montreal. Warnings are in effect north and west of Montreal with a watch still posted for the city and points east. Expect the storms to approach west end Montreal within the next hour with dangerous lightning, gusty winds and brief heavy rain.

Thunderstorms today

Just a brief entry this morning. There is an elevated risk of thunderstorms today from late afternoon into the evening across eastern Ontario and southern Quebec. A cold front will be sliding into warm and humid air in place this morning. Temperatures will reach about 28C under partly cloudy skies. Showers are already developing across eastern Ontario and the Ottawa Valley. The main threat with the storms today will be heavy rain. Clouds and showers will linger into Thursday with breezy and much cooler weather expected.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Warmer weather

We managed to salvage a few hours out of the long weekend as skies slowly cleared out Sunday afternoon. It was enough sunshine to push the temperature up into the mid 20's. Skies were relatively clear overnight but with plenty of moisture around, fog has developed this morning across the area. Once that burns off, and it has already in Montreal, we should see a sunny and warm June day with temperatures rising above 27C in all regions. Skies will remain clear overnight and it will be pleasant with lows around 17C. A cold front will approach the region on Tuesday with sowers and thunderstorms developing in the late afternoon. We will have another warm day near 28C, with gusty southwest winds developing in the afternoon. Some of the storms could be strong late in the day from eastern Ontario into southern Quebec and northern New England. The middle portion of the week will be unsettled before another warm air mass arrives for next weekend. At this time is looks sunny and warm for Canada Day.

TEXAS HEAT: Searing heat continues to affect the southern plains and is now moving east into the southeast and middle Atlantic. Temperatures were in the 90's and 100's yesterday with heat index values above 110F. The air temperature in Childress, Texas was 117F. There is no relief on the map from this heat at the moment. Poor air quality is still a problem across the Outer Banks of North Carolina, as it was when I was down last month. Thick smoke from wildfires burning in mainland Dare County continues to drift over the coast with low visibilities and choking air quality. In the northern plains, severe flooding is still occurring along the Souris River in North Dakota. Nearly 11,000 residents have had to flee their homes.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Unsettled Weather

A brief tornado forms late Thursday west of Ottawa in Kanata. (

A low pressure trough continues to influence the weather across eastern Ontario and southwestern Quebec this afternoon. Brief sunny breaks have allowed for some instability and bands of showers and thunderstorms have been developing near the US border and moving northeast into the region. Some storms may become strong with heavy rain the main threat. Since Thursday the system has produced nearly 50mm of rain in the area with 90mm yesterday alone in Ottawa. Major flooding was reported across the Ottawa Valley and especially in Gatineau on the Quebec side of the border. Some basements were flooded and several roads washed out. There was even a report of a brief tornado near Kanata late Thursday. Environment Canada said the F-0 storm did little in the way of damage in the region. Skies will finally clear with warming temperatures on Sunday as we salvage one day from this long weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Weekend Update

The first of two long weekends is upon us here in southern Quebec, and the entire country next weekend. Sadly showers and thunderstorms are forecast most of the weekend as a very slow moving low pressure area moves from Chicago to Detroit over the next 24 hours. This is the same system that dumped heavy rain across the northern plains and southern Prairies this week. It will not be a steady, all day rain, but it could be heavy at times. There is lots of instability in the atmosphere and any sunshine could trigger the heavy storms. Already this morning some showers and thunderstorms are firring up in eastern Ontario. From now through Saturday 25-50mm (1-2 inches) of rain is possible. We may see a little more sunshine in Sunday. Temperatures will be below normal from 21 to 24C for highs and 15 to 18C for lows.

MINOT: The record flood that is moving along the Souris River from Saskatchewan into North Dakota reached Minot yesterday. Nearly 11,000 people have been forced to evacuate the city of 40,000. I visited Minot back in 1997 and again in 2000. North Dakota is a beautiful state and the valley area is wonderful. That being said North Dakota, like Saskatchewan has topography favorable to big floods. The Souris River is narrow and winding and when it floods is spreads out for miles across the land.

Above and below: Heavy rain across the northern plains this week is now moving east. Flooding and sandbagging efforts continue on the Souris River in Minot. (Photos from the New York Times.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Record flooding moves south

The heavy rain of the last week has pushed the Souris River over its banks across southern Saskatchewan causing extensive damage and that flood is now heading into North Dakota. Forecasters in Minot are predicting a record crest at least 10 feet over the previous benchmark established in 1969. The river twists and bends through the heart of Minot. Evacuations have been ordered and will begin at 6pm tonight. The water is expected to peak by the weekend with major flooding forecast. Strong low pressure that is moving slowly across the Midwest produced as much as 300mm of rain on the already soaked region. The storm is now moving towards the Great Lakes with heavy rain and thunderstorms. Storms yesterday knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes in Chicago. Today those thunderstorms will reach into southwest Ontario and western New York and should begin to affect Quebec by Thursday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome Summer

A near perfect summer day is expected in southern Quebec today with sunshine and warm temperatures to 27C. Summer 2011 arrives at 1:16PM in the eastern time zone. Today is the one of the longest days of the year with close to 16 hours of daylight in Montreal. Tonight will be partly cloudy with lows around 15C. Wednesday will be sunny again and up to 27C. Increasing clouds will move in late in the day with rain and wind by Thursday ahead of low pressure and a warm front.

Sadly the weather is not so good in many other parts of North America. Searing heat is baking the southern Plains into the southwest with fires raging across Texas and Arizona in triple digit heat. meanwhile north of that a persistent upper level low spinning over western Canada is producing heavy thunderstorms and flooding from Saskatchewan across North Dakota and into the northern plains. Estevan in southeast Saskatchewan on the North Dakota border has had close to 300mm of rain since May 1. They normally receive about 325mmm for the entire year. Major flooding is occurring along the Souris River and also across fields and lakes in the region. A state of emergency is still in effect in Weyburn and the surrounding area. Across the Midwest yesterday severe weather produced tornadoes and flooding in Indiana and Tennessee.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Saskatchewan flooding

Above: Weyburn, below Yellow Grass.
A very slow moving low pressure area spinning over the prairies has produced more severe flooding in southern Saskatchewan. Since Friday over 100mm of rain has fallen in Weyburn in the southeast portion of the province. Yellow Grass and Radville to the northwest are reporting major flooding as well with portions of Highway 39 under water. A state of emergency is in effect in Weyburn where several homes and trailers have had to be evacuated and a boil water advisory is in effect. More rain is expected today, washing out roads and flooding basements already. I know the area very well and it is normally very sunny and very dry at this time of year. As a matter of fact Yellow Grass holds the national record for heat at 45C (113F), recorded on July 5, 1937. I lived in the region between 1997 and 2000, and while heavy rain does occur, it is rare to this extent. In addition to the heavy rain in the east, over 150mm of rain fell in Assiniboia, including 91mm on Friday alone in heavy thunderstorms that produced a wind gusts to 91km/h.Montreal: Despite the good weather, it was not a good weekend on Quebec roads. Numerous accidents produced a dozen fatalities, one of which I sadly witnessed on Highway 20 near Coteau du Lac while I was heading to Ontario. The weather this week will be decent to start with sunny skies and warm temperatures. By Thursday a slow moving frontal system will bring showers and thunderstorms that will last into the weekend.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekend Update

Another sunny day is expected in southern Quebec and eastern Ontario today as high pressure prevails. Yesterday we reached 30C and it should get very close to that again today. So far the showers and thunderstorms have remained to our southwest over western New York and Ohio. I believe they will stay there. A weak cold front will cross the region tonight with clouds and a slight risk of showers. The weekend looks great at this point with sunny skies both days and seasonable temperatures around 25C.

Alberta funnel clouds
A big spin of low pressure in the upper atmosphere produced numerous heavy showers and thunderstorms yesterday across Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Alberta, Environment Canada posted a tornado watch for most of the central portion of the province, including Edmonton, for the development of funnel clouds and weak tornadoes from late in the afternoon into the evening. Slow moving heavy thunderstorms also produced decent rainfall with 20-40mm expected in Alberta and as much as 75mm or more in southern Saskatchewan where heavy rainfall warnings are in effect. Flash flooding was observed just south of the border in Montana. The system will slowly move northeast from Montana into Saskatchewan today and gradually weaken.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer heat

The specatacular full lunar eclipse yesterday was visible around most of the world, but not here in North America. (Photo: National

The heat is on to close the week with a couple of 30C days expected. Montreal is in the midst of traffic chaos as several elevated structures and the Mercier Bridge appear to be crumbling and have been closed or lanes reduced by Transport Quebec. Yesterday the 30C weather combined with the closed roads to produce a long, warm "rush hour". Throw into that a few stalls and a major accident on the Trans Canada west of Montreal, and well it was a long drive home for many.

The warm weather and sunshine will continue well into the weekend with just a slight risk of showers and thunderstorms late Friday and again on Saturday. The risk seems low currently, so most of the time it will be dry.

Lunar Eclipse: North America missed out on a spectacular full lunar eclipse yesterday that was visible across a good portion of the globe. The eclipse was one of the longest recorded, nearly 100 minutes in totality. The full strawberry moon was orange to blood red at times. It began in the middle of the afternoon Montreal time and ended before it was dark here, so we missed out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Warmer weather

I had another birthday yesterday, stopped counting actually. But I looked up the weather back in 1966 when I was born and it appears I came into the world during a nasty late afternoon thunderstorm. It all makes sense to me now!

After a rainy and cool start to the week, it appears summer weather is upon us as we head towards the solstice on June 21. High pressure will nudge into the area today and establish a more southerly flow of much warmer and increasingly humid air. After Monday's pathetic 16C we managed a 23C yesterday with just a few sprinkles around. Today we should reach 28C, but with about a 40% chance of afternoon showers or even an isolated thunderstorm. The risk for thunderstorms will increase Thursday as even warmer weather is expected across the region, pushing 30C. Showers and thunderstorms are expected Friday and Saturday before high pressure moves in again by Sunday. Temperatures will remain above normal right into next week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cool - wet Monday

Workers attempt to clear over 30mm of rain from Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal yesterday afternoon.

This is tough weather to return to after enjoying two solid weeks of heat and sunshine in the Carolina's, but hey reality bites at times. Another chilly, windy and wet day is upon as as an upper level low spins over the southern half of the province. Expect clouds, showers and cool northeast winds to 40km/h with air temperatures no better than 16C. It will drop to 11C tonight before a warming trend to 23C on Tuesday under partly sunny skies. Yesterday nearly 32mm of rain drenched the city in sporadic and at times severe thunderstorms and showers. In between the rain drops we managed to get in the Canadian Grand Prix with Jenson Button from England winning on an exciting final lap pass. Weather created a two hour rain delay and added to the excitement of the race with lots of tire strategy and mishaps on the track due to the excessive water.

All that behind us today, where is the summer weather? It is not far to our south and after this low clears the region by late Tuesday, high pressure will build in with clearing skies and warming temperatures to between 26C and 30C right into next weekend.
Lost in all the race news this weekend was the fact that nearly 2000 volunteers showed up in the soggy Richelieu Valley to help residents clean up from the worst flooding in 150 years. Water levels are still above flood stage but continue to drop a few centimetres each day. With the dry and warm weather forecast later this week, the clean up should continue.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rain halts Grand Prix

A rainy start to today's race in Montreal (Getty Images)

The race is in a holding pattern at the moment here in Montreal. Showers and isolated thunderstorms popped up rapidly in the warm humid air mass to our west over eastern Ontario and drifted into the region (Montreal 16C, Ottawa 21C, Kemptville 24C). They are moving rapidly off to the east and things should dry out a little shortly. However the risk is present all afternoon for more isolated downpours. The most recent storm that rapidly crossed Ile Perrot before affecting the track, dumped 20mm or nearly 1 inch of rain at my home in less than 30 minutes.

Cool weather for Grand Prix

The Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve here in Montreal is set to start withing the hour. Currently it is a cool 16C with a very light drizzle falling. F-1 cars unlike their NASCAR cousins, are much better in the rain, however like all race cars, a dry surface is preferred. A glimpse at local radar shows spotty showers along the St. Lawrence Valley that will dampen the event but not wash it out. Of greater concern is the risk for thunderstorms this afternoon. If we get a few sunny breaks the atmosphere will become charged and the potential for storms will increase. At this time the only cell on radar is close to Ottawa. I think we may get the event in before any big storms threaten Montreal. Enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grand Prix Weekend

A cold front late Thursday has pushed the warm and humid air south of Montreal and we are into natural air conditioning this morning with temperatures in the teens. Today will be sunny, pleasant and dry with temperatures near 21C, just a perfect day. The weekend looks not so perfect for the Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 race here in Montreal. Low pressure will race form the Midwest US and pass close to the city over the weekend. Showery weather will develop Saturday and could become a period of steady rain late in the day and into the evening with even a rumble of thunder. The good news at this point is it now appears the heavier precipitation will fall well before the start of the race on Sunday. Precipitation will become more scattered in nature Sunday and we may get most of the race in with a dry track. Temperatures will be chilly around 20C, but if the sun breaks out it can warm up very quickly into the mid 20's. Yesterday was a prime example of how quickly it can warm uner the June sun. With partial clearing in the afternoon the temperature soared to 28C rather quickly. Be safe and enjoy the race.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

One of the best lightning displays in years over the city and my camera was not with me. The picture above is from the Montreal Gazette website.

Environment Canada has posted a severe thunderstorm watch for southern Quebec including metro Montreal from early this morning until around 3pm. The threat for strong thunderstorms to develop between the city and the US border is quite high. Radar is showing some storms near the NY and Ontario border region beginning to flare already. We remain in a very warm and humid air mass, but temperatures will cool off and dry out later this evening.

Last nights storms cut power to over 150,000 in Ontario and 60,000 in Quebec. About 8000 remain without power in Montreal this morning. The temperature reached 31.4C in Montreal yesterday (89F). The weekend looks showery and cooler at this time.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Fierce thunderstorms sweep Montreal & Ottawa

Flooding in Orleans this afternoon. (Ottawa Citizen)

Lines of heavy storms passed through eastern Ontario and southern Quebec late this afternoon and this evening. The storms crossed Montreal during the supper hour knocking out power to thousands of homes with severe lightning and wind gusts to 76km/h at Dorval. I was attempting to install my moms A/C unit as the storms hit LaSalle. The winds kicked up huge plumes of dust from the parking area and the lightning was intense. I managed to install the A/C but sadly left my camera in the car and missed out on awesome lightning. Numerous trees were toppled including one that fell on a house in western Laval sparking a fire. The storms were generated by 32C heat and high humidity that prevailed today in Montreal and Ottawa.

Across eastern Ontario the storms had rotation with several tornadoes sighted. Environment Canada is investigating. Damage was widespread in the Ottawa Valley and in Gatineau regions. Several roofs were torn from buildings in the valley and a church steeple collapsed. Over 90mm of rain fell in Orleans east of Ottawa in less than 1 hour producing widespread flash flooding. Hail was also reported in the region. Tonight more storms are flaring up west of Cornwall and the threat for more severe weather is possible overnight.

Hot & Humid

It looks like the warm and humid air I was experiencing in North Carolina last week has followed me north. High heat and humidity warnings stretch from southern Ontario into southern Quebec today as a tropical air mass blossoms northward. Temperatures are already into the mid twenties and will rise to near 32C (90F) today. Add to that high humidity and it will feel more like 40C. Poor air quality in metro regions is also a side effect in this heat, so smog levels are elevated. You are encouraged to do the obvious today - sunscreen, lots of water and seek out A/C if you feel heat exhaustion coming on. Another note on today's weather is winds will be strong and gusty from the southwest 30-50km/h, "the hairdryer effect" pumping the warm air into the valley.

Early yesterday morning an intense complex of thunderstorms developed near Lake Huron and moved south across midwest Ontario into Lake Erie. The storms produced lots of lightning and high winds. The same may occur today but further east and effect eastern Ontario and extreme southern Quebec into northern New York. There is a 40% chance of thunderstorms, and they could be severe with strong winds and hail. The threat will rise on Thursday as a potent cold front approaches the area and lowers humidity levels and the temperature to more comfortable levels by Friday.

Monday, June 06, 2011

PM to tour Richelieu

Flooding in Richelieu Valley (John Mahoney - The Gazette)

Well I am back. It was an absolutely splendid two weeks in North Carolina. The weather was as perfect as I have ever had on the Outer Banks, but now back to reality.
Prime Minister Harper is scheduled to tour the flood ravaged Richelieu Valley today under sunny but humid skies. It is hoped he will bring news about Federal help and financial assistance for the clean up effort as well as infrastructure repair. Temperatures will be around 25C but humidex levels are on the rise. High pressure will pump warm humid air north for most of this week before a front cools things off and dries the air out by Friday. Temperatures will rise to near 30C mid week with humidex reading in the high thirties. Spotty showers are possible each day in southern Quebec and Ontario with the greatest threat coming Thursday along the cold front. Lake Champlain and the flood region remain at about 102 feet or 2 feet above flood stage. The good news is with the dry weather of late the water is slowly receding after six weeks, and clean up is slowly starting. The Richelieu River fell by almost 10cm (4 inches) yesterday alone.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Heading home

AP Photo of tornado damage in Springfield, Mass. yesterday.

It was another very busy 24 hours with severe weather, high winds and record heat. Lets start in Montreal where an active cold front dropped temperatures from yesterday's sweltering 29C to today's ridiculously cold for June, plus 12C. In the process the front produced winds in excess of 80km/h toppling some trees across the city and cutting power to 20,000 Quebec homes. That same front produced more severe weather across New England with severe thunderstorms and rare tornadoes in Massachusetts. The storms cut through Springfield with two twisters killing four and injuring over 200 while demolishing homes and businesses. The tornado deaths were the first in the state in 16 years. The National Weather Service has rated the storm at an EF-2 (scale of 0 to 5), the worst in 45 years in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile here in coastal North Carolina my visit is drawing to a close as we slowly head back north. The temperature range while I was here was no lower than 73F and the highest was today at 92F. Today's high of 92 here at Cape Hatteras beat the old record of 89F established all the way back in 1895.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hurricane season opens

Hot and humid air continues to dominate much of the east coast with heat advisories stretching from the middle Atlantic north. It was over 90F here on Hatteras Island yesterday and we have not had one drop of rain since I arrived two weeks ago, best weather ever in my 20 years here. The warm air held on in Montreal overnight after a high of 28C yesterday, the low was only 21C (70F). Montreal is already at 25C (77F) while we are at 28C (83F) here. The sunshine and gusty winds will continue in Montreal today with the air slowly drying out as humidity levels drop.

June 1 is the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Forecasters are predicting an active season with possibly 12-18 named systems and up to 10 hurricanes, 5 major, category 3 or higher. The season runs until November. Today an area of interest (NOAA image above) lies off the east coast of Florida. It is a part of energy from that thunderstorm complex that moved across the northeast and Great Lakes on the weekend. It moved off the coast and wrapped around the Bermuda high and into Florida this morning. The small area of thunderstorms only has a 30% chance of development. It will move into the Gulf of Mexico today and needs to be watched closely.