WINCHESTER – Mired in the winter’s first real cold snap, people looking for a break in the weather will be left out in the cold.
With daytime temperatures hovering on the wrong side of minus 20 degrees Celsius, this season has all the makings of being a true Canadian winter. With nighttime lows of -35 as the norm rather than the exception, records are being broken across the province and the country. Ottawa set a new cold record for Jan. 1 of -28.6 degrees Celsius. The previous record was -27.2 Celsius in 1947.
Many people have shouted down the excitement over the recent weather trend claiming this is typical Canadian weather, but this is unusual given how early it is in the winter season. For example, the average daytime high is -5.4 degrees Celsius and the average low is -13.6 degrees Celsius on Dec. 31. Kevin Ramage, lead seasonal forecaster for Instant Weather, said this was expected and with the new La Nina weather pattern. This weather to continue well into the new year with the strongest effects still to come in January.
“This is exactly what we were looking at happening. This cold is really going to hang on through late January,” he said.
A high-pressure system continues to pump frigid Arctic air across Canada and into the Northern U.S., even causing freezing temperatures as far south as Atlanta and Florida.
The cold temperatures prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to tweet “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against.”
Despite Trump’s expert weather analysis, 2016 was the hottest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization and 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have now occurred since the year 2000.
The temperatures aren’t necessarily pleasant, but they pale in comparison to some of the coldest on record. In Alaska, the settlement of Prospect Creek got down to 62.2 degrees Celsius below zero in January of 1971, but that still wasn’t a North American record. That distinction belongs to Snag, Yukon where the thermometre bottomed out at -62.8 degrees Celsius on Feb. 3, 1947. Luckily the temperature skyrocketed to a balmy -48.9 degrees Celsius later that day. The Siberian city of Yakutsk, the largest city built on permafrost with a population of more than 280,000, calls itself the coldest city in the world. A low of -64.4 degrees Celsius was recorded in February 1891, but average highs in the winter are rarely above -30.
In Eastern Ontario, the coldest weeks of the year traditionally fall in the middle of January when any heat reservoirs in the ground and water stop releasing warmth. Couple that with a cool summer, record rainfall, and unusually high water levels on the Great Lakes, there simply isn’t as much heat as there would normally be. This could also cause colder than normal temperatures for longer periods.
Ramage also warned that a couple of major snowfalls in the first few weeks of January may be headed our way. There’s a trough that’s going to sweep across the country from the west that will pull up a lot of moisture from the Gulf Coast. He also reiterated that the snowpack would stay later than normal this year extending the cool weather well into April.
According to Environment Canada, warmer temperatures are expected early next week but the relief will be temporary. So, throw another log on the fire and stock up on thermal underwear, this has the makings of a long, cold Canadian winter.