Muskoka To-DAILY

Cold enough for you? January coldest since 1997 – and Muskoka had most snow in Ontario

MUSKOKA — January was the coldest start to the year in Muskoka since 1997.

While some experienced a few days of -33, on average it was -12.9, compared to the average other years when it is 10.4. This month was also the coldest since 2009.

And the district had the highest snow accumulation in Ontario, with a drop of 158 centimetres, compared to a normal year when we get 90.5. That’s a difference of 67.5 cms and the most Muskoka has had since 1997.

No wonder we’re crawling with snowmobiles this year

According to Environment Canada, despite a few days with temperatures above seasonal, starting around January 10, the mean temperatures this month were colder than normal across the province.

Meteorologist Marie-Ève Giguère said that since Muskoka received almost twice as much snow as it normally gets in January, she took a look the amount of days Muskoka received more than 5 cm of snow in January, and it turns out there was almost twice as many as there normally is in January.

She said there were 13 days where snowfall greater than 5 cm  was observed, while the normal is 6.9 such days.

And she sa id the persistent westerly cold air and westerly winds causing a few prolonged episodes of snowsqualls/lake effect flurries are to blame for this.

Regarding the cold air, once again, she said we’ll have a short “break” back to seasonal temperatures by the end of this week, as a system scoots by, but the colder than normal temperature are expected to be back by the weekend.

They say in their monthly analysis report that there were a few exceptions — Moosonee, Petawawa and Ottawa — which experienced temperatures within the normal range.

See their full report below:

Elsewhere, mean temperatures for the month were below normal values by as much as 3.6 degrees Celsius.

Snowfall amounts were above normal in the northwest, the western part of the Far North, sections of the northeast and most of southwestern Ontario. Windsor set a record for the most snow ever received in any month (not just for a January) at that location, with 93.6 centimetres. The record had been 90.6 centimetres, set in December 2000. A few other locations also approached record values. For example, it was the second snowiest January in both Muskoka and Sault Ste. Marie.    

Severe Weather:

The first week of the month packed in more than a month’s worth of noteworthy weather and unfortunately things didn’t slow down much through the rest of January. The month got off to a very snowy start on January 1-2 in extreme southwestern Ontario as the Windsor and EssexCounty areas were impacted by the northern edge of a storm system that tracked well to the south of Lake Erie. This system deposited a little more than 30 centimetres of snow.

Northwestern and northeastern Ontario came under the influence of a vigorous Alberta Clipper that swept through these areas on January 3-4. General snowfall amounts of between 10 and 20 centimetres were reported across the north from this system. However, as the system tracked north of Lake Superior, additional moisture from the lake contributed to snowfall totals of 25 to 30 centimetres in areas to the northeast.

Yet another storm system, this one from Oklahoma, moved into southern Ontario and provided a general snowfall from January 5 into the morning hours the next day. Snowfall amounts between 15 and 25 centimetres were reported through southwestern Ontario into the Lake Simcoe area and eastwards towards the upper OttawaValley. The highest amounts were recorded in Barrie, where 30 to 40 centimetres fell.

In the wake of the January 5-6 storm, rare blizzard warnings were issued for areas near Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. These blizzard warnings were issued due to concerns that very cold air would flood into Southern Ontario from January 6-9, setting up ideal conditions for long-lived and persistent snow squalls. No single Environment Canada observation site captured the true extent of this event, but numerous reports of road closures and poor visibilities in snow and blowing snow were reported in areas to the east of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay during this event.

The remainder of the month saw a series of wind chill warnings being issued across the province as very cold air combined with gusty winds to produce wind chills in the -30s in southern Ontario and the -40s in northern Ontario.

More systems born in the Prairies also moved through the province during the month. These did not necessarily provide significant snow accumulations but, on occasion, would necessitate blowing snow warnings as the loose snow on the ground would be picked up and produce poor visibilities and significant drifts on roads.

The snowbelt areas near Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay also experienced a series of snow squall events as cold northwest winds moved over the Great Lakes. In a few cases, the cold winds were driven by winds from the southwest, and this resulted in snow squalls occurring along the north shore of LakeOntario between Cobourg and Kingston.

A snow squall occurring along the north shore of LakeOntario on January 24 resulted in a 50-vehicle pileup on Highway 401 near Brighton. Persistent squall activity, as well as extensive blowing snow during the period from January 19-29, resulted in the County of Dufferin declaring an emergency. The road crews and emergency management personnel in the county had been working almost non-stop during this period and there had been numerous road closures due to poor visibilities and snow piling up on the roads. The declaration of an emergency allowed the County to bring in assistance from neighbouring areas to help deal with the situation.


Unusual mean temperature readings (in °C), ranked by variation from normal:
Location Mean Temp Normal Difference Coldest since
Windsor -8.1 -4.5 -3.6 1994
Kenora -20.9 -17.3 -3.6 1996
Thunder Bay -18.4 -14.8 -3.6 2004
Dryden -21.0 -17.5 -3.5 2004
Sioux Lookout -22.1 -18.6 -3.5 2004
Sarnia -8.7 -5.4 -3.3 2009
London -9.5 -6.3 -3.2 2004
Sault Ste. Marie -13.6 -10.5 -3.1 2004
TorontoCity -7.0 -4.2 -2.8 2009
RedLake -22.3 -19.6 -2.7 2004
Hamilton -8.7 -6.0 -2.7 2009
Kitchener/Waterloo -9.6 -7.1 -2.5 2009
Muskoka -12.9 -10.4 -2.5 2009
Chapleau -18.4 -16.0 -2.4 2004
Peterborough -11.3 -8.9 -2.4 2009
Toronto Pearson -8.7 -6.3 -2.4 2009
Geraldton -21.5 -19.2 -2.3 2011
Wiarton -9.1 -6.8 -2.3 2011
PickleLake -22.6 -20.5 -2.1 2004
Wawa -16.9 -14.8 -2.1 2004
Kingston -9.2 -7.1 -2.1 2009
North Bay -15.1 -13.0 -2.1 2009
Sudbury -15.6 -13.6 -2.0 2009
Record high snowfall readings (in cm), ranked by variation from normal:
Location Snowfall Normal Difference Previous record
Windsor 93.6 35.0 58.6  86.4 (1999)
Unusual snowfall readings (in cm), ranked by variation from normal:
Location Snowfall Normal Difference Least snow since
Chapleau 34.6 58.3 -23.7 2010
Ottawa 36.6 55.2 -18.6 2010
Kapuskasing 42.4 60.8 -18.4 2013
Petawawa 37.2 53.9 -16.7 2010
Location Snowfall Normal Difference Most snow since
Muskoka 158.0 90.5 67.5 1997
Sault Ste. Marie 135.8 81.7 54.1 1982
Wawa 119.3 74.9 44.4 1996
Kenora 57.6 28.0 29.6 2004
Sudbury 92.3 63.8 28.5 2012
London 75.0 52.6 22.4 2004
Kitchener/Waterloo 62.4 43.5 18.9 2009
North Bay 81.2 63.0 18.2 2012
Trenton 64.7 46.7 18.0 2009
Moosonee 58.2 40.8 17.4 2013
Sioux Lookout 50.9 34.1 16.8 2013
Wiarton 139.9 125.2 14.7 2013
Unusual precipitation readings (in mm), ranked by variation from normal:
Location Precipitation Normal Difference Driest since
Ottawa 40.4 70.2 -29.8 2011
Kingston 60.4 87.6 -27.2 2013
Location Precipitation Normal Difference Wettest since
Wiarton 139.4 105.3 34.1 2013
North Bay 101.2 67.6 33.6 2008
Wawa 88.5 59.3 29.2 1997

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