Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Arctic air to surge into Quebec to start April

Arctic air will surge south into Quebec and Ontario to start the month of April.
The final few patches of snow are melting away here on L'Ile Perrot, as the March sun begins to warm us up. High pressure will give southern Quebec a sunny and mild Wednesday, with light winds and temperatures warming to 12C (54F). Sadly, that is the end of the good weather news. Strengthening low pressure will approach southern Quebec from the central US on Thursday, with showers and thunderstorms. Rainfall amounts once again may exceed 25mm (1 inch) in many areas of Quebec and Ontario. Rainfall warnings have been posted by Environment Canada for regions north of Toronto, through the Ottawa Valley, and north of Montreal. It will be mild and breezy, with high temperatures near 15C (59F) in Montreal on Thursday.

On Friday, the first of two arctic fronts will slip south of the St. Lawrence Valley, with much colder air pouring into southern Ontario and Quebec. Winds will increase out of the northwest, up to 50km/h, along with showers both Friday and Saturday. Temperatures will begin to slowly cool Friday, with the high Saturday only 5C (41F). The really cold air arrives over the weekend, as another arctic front crosses the region. Temperatures will plummet to well below freezing Sunday, with a high of only -4C (25F) forecast. By Monday morning, low temperatures will be in the minus teens across southern Quebec. The cold will be accompanied by gusty northwest winds and some snow. It will feel like mid-winter into the early portion of next week. Snowfall, at this time, is expected to be light in Montreal, but more significant across the higher elevations of Quebec and New England, and especially close to the Great Lakes. A swath of lake-effect snow is possible this weekend and early next week.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Windy wet start to the work week for Montreal and Ottawa

Hydro One photo showing downed power lines in southern Ontario. Last weeks ice storm knocked power out to over 100,000 Ontario homes. Crews have been working hard throughout the Easter long weekend.
After a delightful Easter Sunday with sunny and warm weather, we start the last week of March with clouds and rain. A potent low pressure area near Detroit this morning, will rapidly move northeast down the St. Lawrence valley today. Clouds are on the increase with the rain following close behind. The rain will be heavy at times today, with the chance of some thunderstorms as well. There were numerous reports of thunderstorms in Ontario overnight. Montreal can expect 15-25mm of rainfall through midnight. The high temperature will be near 8C (47F).

On the backside of the storm, colder air will surge into the region overnight with rain changing to snow across eastern Ontario and southern Quebec. Most locations can expect a dusting to 2cm before the precipitation ends Tuesday morning. The temperature will fall to near -1C (30F) in Montreal overnight. Winds will become quite strong today, 30-50km/h, increasing to 50-70km/h tonight before diminishing Tuesday morning.

A spring arctic outbreak is forecast this week into the weekend.
After a break in the weather late Tuesday and Wednesday, another warm, wet and windy weather system will affect Quebec Thursday into early next weekend. This low pressure area will be followed by unseasonably cold weather next Sunday, that will last for a few days. At this time, temperatures are expected to be to be 10 to 15 degrees below normal along with a chance of some snow. The good news is that the cold snap is only expected to last 48 to 72 hours before temperatures moderate. The bad news is lake effect snow, along with hard freeze, can be expected from the Great Lakes into portions of eastern Canada and the US.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Freezing rain warning for Montreal and eastern Ontario

Roads were impossible to drive on around Denver on Wednesday, as a late winter storm blasted the region. (CSP Photo)
Strong low pressure continues to lift north this morning from Iowa towards the Great Lakes. An elongated warm front stretching from the storm lies to the south of Montreal, over New England. This front separates very warm air from cold air here in the St. Lawrence Valley. Precipitation will arrive this morning in Montreal, in the form of snow. Expect 5 to 10cm of snow for Montreal, with 10-15cm north and west of the city including Ottawa. The snow will change to sleet and freezing rain in Montreal this afternoon, and continue into the overnight hours. Several hours of freezing rain are possible. Temperatures will be chilly today, with a persistent northeast wind, but will warm overnight to the freezing point and above for Friday. Any precipitation will taper off to showers on Friday morning. The balance of the long weekend looks good, with dry weather and mild temperatures through Easter Sunday.

This morning, southern and eastern Ontario are reporting freezing rain and snow. The result has been widespread power outages, along with school closings and flight cancellations at Pearson Airport in Toronto. Travel along the 401 and 417 will be difficult today. Weather warnings are posted for all of southern Ontario and Quebec for today and tonight.

This storm's main area of low pressure has produced some wild weather over the past 24 hours. As is typical with most spring storms, this system has a big variation in temperatures. On Wednesday, heavy snow fell west of the storm track in Denver, with numerous road closures and nearly 80,000 without power. At the same time, on the warm side of the storm, strong winds were fueling brush fires in Oklahoma and Texas, with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in Kansas and Nebraska. Today, blizzard conditions stretch across the upper Midwest from Minnesota to Michigan. Heavy snow will move into central Ontario and Quebec later today, with up to 30cm forecast.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Storm to impact Ontario and Quebec with snow and ice

Significant freezing rain and snow is possible across southern Ontario and Quebec with this next storm.
One thing you should know about March and April in Montreal is that they typically produce some of our largest snowfalls. History has shown this, with the largest storm being the March 3, 1971 blizzard. But there are so many more. On April 3, 1975, after what was a very mild March, 32cm of snow, driven by 100km/h winds, fell. Other notable storms include, April 9, 2000, 34.5cm, April 15, 2007, 37cm and April 27, 2010, 29.8cm. In March 1955, 108cm of snow fell in one month. To compare, Montreal has recorded only 95.8cm this entire winter, the lowest amount of the last 25 years. The most telling statistic I could find was in May 1963. After a high of 22C (72F) on May 9th, strong low pressure and cold northeast winds dumped 25.6cm of snow on the city in 36 hours, May 10 and 11th.

Another 4cm of wet snow fell on L'Ile Perrot and Montreal overnight.
That brings us to Spring 2016, with more snow on the ground this morning. L'Ile Perrot had about 4cm of very wet snow overnight. It has now ended and we can expect a partly cloudy day, with a high near 2C (36F). Our attention will then turn to a rapidly strengthening late winter storm that will move from Colorado towards the eastern Great Lakes. This storm will produce a swath of rain, snow and freezing rain. As has been the case all season, the exact path remains a little uncertain. One thing that is known is that Montreal is going to receive a significant amount of precipitation from Thursday into Good Friday.

Widespread winter storm watches and warnings are now in effect across the US Midwest into Ontario, and they should be expanded into Quebec later today. Snow will begin in Montreal early Thursday along with strong northeast winds up to 50km/h. The snow will change to freezing rain late in the day and likely over to rain overnight into Friday, as temperatures warm from -4C (25F) Thursday to well above freezing Friday. Amounts of snow and ice will likely exceed 15cm over most of southern Quebec. Where the precipitation remains as snow, north of Montreal, over 25cm is possible. Skies will clear for the weekend, with warmer temperatures returning by Easter Sunday.

Monday, March 21, 2016

First week of spring more like winter in Montreal

The next storm system will move from Colorado into the Great Lakes by Thursday, with the potential for snow and freezing rain in Montreal and Ottawa.
As is often the case, the first week of spring will feature more winter weather then most of the season did. Spring arrived at 12:30AM early Sunday morning, but most of the weekend featured a cold north wind and high temperatures near the freezing point. The normal high in Montreal for March 21st should be 4C (39F). This morning, we start the day at a chilly -6C (21F), along with cloudy skies. The cloud deck is from a coastal storm located east of Cape Cod, that is expected to affect Atlantic Canada today. Precipitation this morning is largely confined to coastal areas of New England. Snow will spread into Nova Scotia and New Brunswick later today, with up to 20cm possible. Only a stray snowflake is possible in southern Quebec. The sun should return to Montreal this afternoon, with a high temperature near 3C (38F).

Spring Snow for Montreal
On Tuesday, weak low pressure will slide across the Great Lakes and along the US border. Clouds will increase early in the day, followed by light snow by evening in Montreal. A good 5cm of snow is forecast by Wednesday morning, from the Ottawa Valley into southern Quebec. Later in the day Wednesday, an arctic boundary will slip just south of Montreal, with cooler air surging into the St. Lawrence Valley. With temperatures below freezing into Thursday, another surge of moisture will arrive as low pressure develops over the US Midwest. This storm will provide Montreal, southern Quebec and parts of Ontario with a messy mix of rain, freezing rain and snow, as we head into Good Friday. At this time, the track of the storm remains uncertain. The exact path will determine what type and amount of precipitation we can expect in Montreal. Amounts may be significant, along with gusty winds. If you have travel plans late Wednesday through Friday in Ontario and Quebec, pay close attention to future forecasts. Temperatures for most of this week will remain below normal, with warmer weather expected by Easter Sunday.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Quebec cities participating in Earth Hour 2016

Visit to see how you can take part in Earth Hour 2016 this Saturday.

Saturday, March 19th, between 8:30 and 9:30pm local time, is the 10th annual Earth Hour. Participants are asked to shut off all non-essential electricity for one hour and think about their commitment to climate action for the year ahead.  This annual symbolic event, draws attention to climate change, carbon emissions, electricity consumption and the impact our actions are having on our planet. The event has grown over the last decade to include a record-breaking 178 countries this year, on six continents and in 24 time zones. Earth Hour is sponsored by the World Wildlife Federation here in Canada, with dozens of municipalities participating. The City of Montreal will turn off the lights in all the main administrative buildings, including city hall, as well as the cross atop Mount Royal, at 8:30pm Saturday night.

After very mild weather and thunderstorms on Thursday, Montreal awoke to a blanket of snow this morning. (ValleyWX)

Potential Snowstorm
We had a wild few hours of weather in Montreal Thursday afternoon. Rare March thunderstorms swept across southern Quebec between 3 and 5pm, with small hail, strong winds and heavy rain. Overnight, another cold front crossed the region, with light rain changing to snow around 3am. We had a good 2-3cm of snow here on L'Ile Perrot this morning, but it is now in the process of melting. This weekend will be chilly, with mostly sunny skies and highs near 0C (32F). Overnight lows will be cold, down to -10C (14F). Late Sunday, low pressure is forecast to develop near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and move northeast along the eastern seaboard. Forecast models have been all over the place, with the track of this particular system varying from a complete miss to significant snow as far west as Montreal. We will have to keep an eye on this storm, but at this time, my feeling is that we will get just a few flurries and gusty northeast winds late Sunday and Monday, with not much more for southern Quebec.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wide variety of weather over the next 24 hours in Montreal

A strong spring storm has produced heavy snow in Manitoba, western Ontario and Minnesota, as well as severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the US Midwest. A wind gust to 96km/h occurred in Toronto on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Trump Towers in Chicago was struck by lightning, perhaps a sign of just how polarizing he is.
Nearly all the snow has now melted in Montreal with the exception of a few dirty patches. We can thank nearly two weeks of well-above-normal temperatures, along with rain for the rapid thaw here in southern Quebec. Even the overnight temperatures have remained above freezing. The weather will turn rather active over the next 24 hours, as a strong storm moves from the western Great Lakes into central Quebec.

After the overnight rain, we can expect partly-cloudy skies to start the day, with a mild high of 12C (54F). This afternoon, a strong cold front will cross the region, with gusty winds and the possibility of isolated thunderstorms. Some of the storms may produce small hail. Winds will gust as high as 50km/h in Montreal and up to 80km/h in any thunderstorms. Colder air will filter in behind the front, with dropping temperatures and light rain changing to snow by midnight. The flurries will continue overnight with a low of -3C (27F). We may have as much as 2 or 3cm of snow by Friday morning in some locations across southern Quebec. Friday will be breezy, with clearing skies. It will be much colder than it has been on Friday, with a high near 1C (33F). The weekend looks chilly as well, with overnight lows near -10C (14F) and daytime highs near 0C (32F).

A coastal storm will likely leave Montreal on the western edge of the precipitation once again. (AccuWeather)
Potential Spring Snowstorm
Despite Sunday being the first day of spring, a strong ocean storm is forecast to develop along the US east coast by late Saturday and move towards Atlantic Canada by Monday morning. At this time, it looks like Montreal will remain on the western edge of the system, but it bears watching. Measurable snow is possible from the Eastern Townships into New England, with cold northeast winds and a few flurries in Montreal by Sunday night and Monday. A major snowstorm is quite likely for portions of eastern Quebec into New Brunswick and PEI.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Wet weather week ahead for Montreal

Expect an unsettled weather week in Montreal with plenty of clouds and showers. The silver lining will be mild temperatures along with melting snow. (AccuWeather Photo)
The snow is melting very quickly in Montreal, as temperatures have been 5 to 10 degrees above normal for the last week. The trend will continue this week, along with intermittent rain through Friday. Clouds will rapidly increase this morning, with rain developing by noon in Montreal. Some locations across the Eastern Townships, as well as north of Montreal and into the Ottawa Valley, may see an hour or two of light freezing rain at the onset. All precipitation will change over to plain rain by this afternoon, as the temperature reaches 5C (41F) today.

Showers will prevail for most of the week, as the region is influenced by several areas of low pressure. Much colder temperatures will begin to filter into western Canada, and eventually the Great Lakes, by the end of the week. Until then, expect daily highs either side of 10C (50F) through Friday in Montreal, southern Quebec and eastern Ontario. Colder weather early next week may increase the possibility of some snow in Quebec and New England, but we are still a week out and the forecast may change. Leave the snow tires on for now.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Warm air surges north into Ontario and Quebec

An early and warm spring may be on tap. It is looking like the entire month of March may remain above freezing for daytime highs in Montreal.
The melting continues in southern Quebec after daytime highs on Wednesday reached between 10 and 15C (50 to 60F). The normal high for the second week of March should be 1C (34F). This morning, we are dealing with widespread fog with temperatures near 7C (45F) in Montreal. A cold front slipped south of the city overnight. As a result, the temperature will drop today, down to the freezing point by evening. Low pressure responsible for major flooding across the south central US will lift a plume of moisture north along the cold front today. At this time, I expect most of the rain to remain south of Montreal, with the heaviest falling across central New York and Vermont, up to 25mm (1 inch) possible. Montreal can expect just a cold drizzle, with cloudy skies today into this evening.

Stay OFF the ice
On Friday, skies will clear out with mild temperatures returning. The high temperatures will range from 5C to 11C (41 to 52F) most of the weekend across southern Quebec. It should remain dry through Sunday. An important note on this mild weather; All ice on area rivers and lakes is very unstable and thus extremely unsafe to be on at this time. On Wednesday, another drowning occurred after a man fell through the ice while fishing on Shelburne Pond in Vermont.

It was very warm just to our south on Wednesday. While Montreal managed 11C (52F) at Trudeau Airport, I recorded 13C (55F) here on L'Ile Perrot. The high reached 20C (68F) in Toronto, a record-breaking 21C (69F) in Burlington, Vermont and a downright hot 27C (81F) in Albany, New York.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Has spring sprung in Montreal?

A surge in warmth this week will give southern Ontario and Quebec high temperatures from 10 to 15C (50 to 60F) by Wednesday.
Despite the heavy wet snow and chilly temperatures this morning in Montreal, it appears we may be turning the corner on this winter. The snow should end shortly with around 5cm or so for the city. It was not much of a winter, with only one really big snowstorm on December 28th, followed by a handful of smaller systems. The numbers back this up, with only 128cm (53 inches) of snow at Trudeau Airport from December 1 to February 29th. The normal for that time frame in Montreal should be 141cm. Much more snow fell north of the city, with very little south of the city into northern New York and Vermont. All winter long, the storm track either split our region, leaving us on the outside of the precipitation, or brought warm air with snow or freezing rain changing to rain.

Despite the surprise heavy wet snow Monday morning in Montreal, it looks like much warmer weather will arrive very soon.

As far as temperatures go, this is where we really see just how warm this winter turned out. The average daily temperature for December through February in Montreal was -3.4C (25.8F), while it should have been closer to -8.4C (16.8F). Those numbers represent a tremendous seasonal difference. You may recall a record 17C (63F) on Christmas Eve, as well as several record highs in January. That being said, I still have lots of ice and snow in my yard, which tends to keep temperatures down, so any real surge in warmth will have to eat away at that before we see true spring weather.

This week will feature typical March weather for southern Quebec, as we start the week with snow, warm up to above 10C (50F) on Wednesday, and then possibly have more snow Thursday night. In general, as we look ahead throughout the month of March, I see milder-than-normal weather prevailing, with lots of above-freezing temperatures expected. A slight dip in the mercury around the 24th may allow for one last sneaky snowstorm. Time will tell, but it really looks like spring is on the horizon.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The mystery of the missing blizzard in Montreal

Near-blizzard conditions were observed along the St. Lawrence River north and east of Montreal. A section of Highway 20 east of Quebec City was closed from Levis to La Pocatier, most of Wednesday morning. (Transport Quebec)
That was not much of a storm, at least here in Montreal. A swath of heavy snow did impact regions from central Ontario, through the Ottawa Valley, and northeast towards Quebec City. Along that path, between 20 and 30cm of snow fell. South of there, the snow trailed off quickly. Here in Montreal, warmer air aloft turned the snow to ice pellets. Trudeau Airport measured a messy mix of close to 10cm, along with strong winds up to 75km/h.

Other parts of southern Quebec, Ontario, Vermont and New York had more freezing rain than snow. (Black Forks Towing Photo)
So what happened? In short, the system traveled about 100km further northwest than originally indicated by several forecast models. This introduced a small zone of warmer air above the surface, which cut off the snow here in Montreal and produced freezing rain and sleet. Environment Canada is not alone in the assessment of this storm, several other weather agencies both public and private, on both sides of the border, called this one wrong. But, forecasting winter storms is one of the most challenging things a meteorologist has to do, especially here in southern Quebec. A change in trajectory of just a few kilometres can mean the difference between a major impact winter storm and a complete miss. As we have seen this winter, just a few kilometres of geography can have a wide range of temperatures and precipitation types.

Where the Quebec Weather Centre made a big mistake on this particular system was upgrading its status to a blizzard. A blizzard is the worst type of winter storm, very few achieve this status, and this system was never that strong from the onset. At best, marginal blizzard conditions might have occurred for an hour or two in the dead of night, and a winter storm warning would have covered that scenario just fine. All the neighbouring weather offices chose to use that type of warning to cover this storm. I have been writing and following weather in the St. Lawrence Valley since I was 12, which would date back to 1978. In all those years, I don't recall Environment Canada here in Quebec issuing a blizzard warning regarding any potential snowstorm.

In any event, milder weather is on the horizon and Spring is close at hand. If you believe the extended forecast, it looks like an early, very warm spring, starting as soon as next week.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Blizzard Warning for Montreal

A blizzard warning is in effect for metro Montreal as strong low pressure moves from the lower Great Lakes into New York.
2:00 AM UPDATE: Freezing rain is falling on L'Ile Perrot with very strong winds at 2am. It appears the storm is taking a track a little further to the north and west. If this trend continues, Montreal can expect significantly less snow than originally forecast. The blizzard warning has been changed to a winter storm warning for most of the region.

A rarely-issued blizzard warning has been posted or tonight for southern Quebec, primarily the St. Lawrence Valley including Montreal. Environment Canada defines a blizzard as four or more hours of heavy falling or blowing snow, 40km/h winds or higher, cold temperatures of -10C (14F) or lower and visibility of less than 400 metres (0.4km). I can't recall a blizzard warning being issued for Montreal in recent years, and that includes some substantial storms. I don't think this system will be epic, but it will certainly be challenging for anybody traveling overnight from Quebec City into southern Ontario.

March certainly came in like a lion, with wild weather over the last 24 hours. After several hours of freezing rain Monday morning, a powerful arctic front raced through the city last night. The front was accompanied by thunder and lightning, as well as brief, heavy snow and 80km/h winds in Montreal. In its wake, we have a very cold but calm morning, with a temperature of -15C (5F).

Today will be fair, with increasing clouds and a high near -10C (14F). Tonight, snow will develop, becoming heavy after midnight, along with increasing northeast winds up to 70km/h and cold temperatures near -10C. Widespread blowing snow will reduce visibility to under 0.5km at times. Snow accumulations in the city should range from 10-20cm overnight, with storm totals near 30cm by the time precipitation ends early Wednesday afternoon. Low pressure will move from the Ohio Valley just south of Montreal and into Maine Wednesday. Winter storm warnings are also in effect down the St. Lawrence River towards Kingston and west into Toronto. Travel along the 401 corridor will be very difficult starting today through early Wednesday. Heavy snow is also expected north of Montreal. More than 30cm is forecast from the Ottawa Valley across the Laurentians.