Muskoka To-DAILY

Cold temperatures continued in February as Mother Nature’s thermostat was stuck on frigid

MUSKOKA  — The district had its coldest February in more than a decade, says Enviroment Canada.

The mean temperature was a chilly -12.6. Normally it’s about -9.2 or a -3.4-degree difference.

It hasn’t been this cold since 2003, according to Geoff Coulson, warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment Canada,

 He says Muskoka had 49.6 cm of snow in February, down a dozen cm. compared to the long-term average snowfall for the month of 57.6 cm. 

But the snowfall total for the winter so far is 456 cm. That’s up more than a metre. The normal snowfall for a whole winter is 338 cm. 

So this winter is already a lot snowier than normal — but it still a ways to go to match some recent winters, reports Coulson. 

He says, for example, in 2007-2008  we had 559.4 cm.

 And in 2008-2009 — a whopping 545.6 cm.

 But that’s nothing. The current record for snowiest winter?

 It was in 1942-43 when there was 567.6 cm fell.

 Unfortunately, spring still appears a ways off.

 And what about Wiarton Willie?

 The latest forecast from now into the middle of April says temperatures will remain colder than normal in general — though we should get some days like today, with milder temperatures.

 Still, there’s more snow to come as well.

 Not the news anyone wants to hear, but if there is a silver lining it may mean a slower reduction of the snowpack — and no rapid warm-up means no rapid melt.

 Coulson says: “We’ll be keeping a close eye on temperature and rainfall trends in the coming weeks and providing this info to local Conservation Authorities, the experts in spring flooding.”

In his monthly missive, here, Coulson says that Ontarians experienced exceptionally cold temperatures this month. With the exception of locations bordering Hudson’s Bay, it was colder than normal across the province. Differences larger than five degrees Celsius between the mean temperatures and those of the reference period (the 1971-2000 climate normals), were not uncommon this February. The northwest, north of Superior and southwestern Ontario saw the largest differences. While many locations had experienced colder Februarys within the last 10 years, this February still fell within the top 10 of the coldest Februarys on record – and this was for some stations that have kept records since the 1930s or 1940s.

Significant snowfall was also noteworthy this month. Locations outside traditional snowbelts ranked in the top five for the snowiest February for their location. It was the third snowiest for both Geraldton and Kenora, and the fifth snowiest in Sioux Lookout. 

Severe Weather

Following on the heels of a chilly January, cold arctic air continued to affect the entire province, which prompted numerous wind chill warnings throughout February.
During the month, northern Ontario was marked by a few Alberta Clippers, which left appreciable snowfall amounts and blowing snow. These were followed by lake-effect snow on the eastern shores of Lake Superior, as cold air blasted back into the region in the wake of each storm.

One major storm affected the entire province on February 20-22. It brought warning-criteria (at least 15 centimetres in 12 hours) snowfall to northwestern Ontario and to north of Superior areas, while leaving northeastern Ontario with lesser amounts of snow.

Nevertheless, the rapid changeover there from snow, to several hours of freezing rain, to rain and then back to snow, made for complicated travelling conditions. Sioux Lookout, Mine Centre and Atikokan reported between 15 and 20 centimetres. Further west, in Thunder Bay and Geraldton, 24 to 30 centimetres were reported, whereas Wawa received 15 centimetres of snow before that turned to freezing rain.

Southern Ontario was marked by a few troublesome storms. The one on February 5 resulted in the biggest snowfall of the season for some locales around the west end of LakeOntario, including the Greater Toronto Area. As much as 29 and 28 centimetres of snow were measured by a volunteer observer on the Niagara Escarpment and at the Downsview station, respectively.

The February 20-22 storm brought some rain, thunderstorms and strong winds to all of southern Ontario, causing local flooding as the accompanying mild temperatures contributed to the melting of snow and ponding of water.

Rainfall amounts were in the range of 20 to 35 millimetres from Windsor to Ottawa, with the highest measurement at Welland with 35.2 millimetres. The strongest wind gust recorded was in Wiarton, with a speed of 92 kilometres per hour. The rain was preceded by an afternoon rush-hour snowfall which surprised motorists, with large flakes rapidly reducing visibility and covering untreated roads with a layer of slippery wet snow that was a few centimetres thick.

On February 27, which mostly turned out to be yet another sunny, cold and windy day, a sharp cold front crossed southern Ontario in the morning. Although the passage of the front was brief, the snow and blowing snow that accompanied it made for dangerous driving conditions. The front was most vigorous between Sarnia and Peterborough, where several multi-vehicle pileups occurred. One of these claimed two lives in LambtonCounty in a 37-vehicle collision.

On Highway 400 south of Barrie, as many as 96 vehicles were involved in a pileup, but fortunately only minor injuries were reported.

Regions adjacent to the Great Lakes normally see a number of snow squall warnings issued, due to lake-effect snow squalls that may last up to several days and leave significant amounts of snow should they lock in over a specific area.

The event on February 27 also triggered the issuance of snow squall warnings – but due to what is known as a “frontal snow squall.”

These happen rather seldom, affect a larger swath of the province and are briefer at any location than their lake-effect counterparts. The main threat from a frontal snow squall is the suddenly reduced visibility when first encountering the squall.  They do not leave significant accumulations of snow, as they travel quite quickly, but they do normally create a surprise effect because of how abruptly they come.

 

Unusual mean temperature readings (in °C), ranked by variation from normal:
         

Location

Mean Temp

Normal

Difference

Coldest since

Kitchener/Waterloo

-11.8

-6.4

-5.4

1979

Kenora

-18.2

-12.9

-5.3

1989

London

-10.6

-5.5

-5.1

1979

Thunder Bay

-17.1

-12.0

-5.1

1996

Sarnia

-9.3

-4.4

-4.9

1979

Sault Ste. Marie

-14.6

-9.7

-4.9

1979

Sioux Lookout

-18.8

-14.3

-4.5

2003

Dryden

-17.6

-13.3

-4.3

2007

Geraldton

-19.8

-15.5

-4.3

2011

Hamilton

-9.4

-5.2

-4.2

1979

Windsor

-7.2

-3.2

-4.0

2007

Peterborough

-11.5

-7.7

-3.8

1994

RedLake

-19.0

-15.2

-3.8

2007

Wiarton

-10.4

-6.9

-3.5

1994

Muskoka

-12.6

-9.2

-3.4

2003

Kingston

-9.1

-6.0

-3.1

2007

TorontoCity

-6.2

-3.2

-3.0

2007

Toronto Pearson

-8.3

-5.4

-2.9

2007

Wawa

-15.0

-12.1

-2.9

2007

Chapleau

-15.9

-13.2

-2.7

2007

North Bay

-13.6

-10.9

-2.7

2007

Trenton

-9.0

-6.3

-2.7

2007

PickleLake

-19.8

-17.5

-2.3

2007

Sudbury

-13.7

-11.4

-2.3

2007

Timmins

-16.6

-14.4

-2.2

2007

 

 

 

 

 

Unusual snowfall readings (in cm), ranked by variation from normal:
         

Location

Snowfall

Normal

Difference

Least snow since

Sudbury

21.8

50.0

-28.2

2002

Petawawa

17.3

42.2

-24.9

1998

Kapuskasing

15.2

36.4

-21.2

2000

Chapleau

20.4

41.1

-20.7

1997

North Bay

32.0

52.2

-20.2

2010

         

Location

Snowfall

Normal

Difference

Most snow since

Kenora

56.3

17.9

38.4

1962

Windsor

58.0

27.5

30.5

2011

Sioux Lookout

50.5

25.3

25.2

1971

Geraldton

53.8

28.9

24.9

2001

Kitchener/Waterloo

53.2

30.6

22.6

2013

Toronto Pearson

39.5

22.1

17.4

2013

London

54.5

38.1

16.4

2011

Thunder Bay

42.2

26.9

15.3

1979

 

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