Friday, 4 April 2014

April showers to help melt the snow

It does not surprise me at all that we are off to such a slow start to spring in Montreal. After a couple of plus 5C highs to start April, we only managed 3C on Thursday, despite wall to wall sunshine. The culprit is and will continue to be cold winds produced by the ice covered St. Lawrence River. It goes beyond that with ice covering 70% of the Great Lakes after coming down from a near record high of 93%. Portions of Lake Superior are still 90% ice covered. This will greatly affect the spring daytime temperatures, capping them at least as long as the ice and the dense piles of snow remain in and around Ontario and Quebec. It is melting slowly, especially those fortunate enough to have direct sunlight all day.

Numerous ships are labouring through ice as thick as 8 feet on the Great Lakes as the Seaway has opened but to a very slow start. (Photo Boat Nerd Facebook Page)
Friday will be another sunny day with increasing clouds across eastern Ontario and southern Quebec. We have a storm system over the central US that will move towards the Great Lakes. This system will push a warm front across Ontario and Quebec with rain developing this evening and tapering off Saturday. Expect a good 10-20mm of rain across the region. Some areas north and east of Montreal may see some freezing rain or sleet tonight mixed with the rain. Snow is likely across far northwest Quebec and northeast Ontario. Thunderstorms may even pop up in extreme southern Ontario. Temperatures will be mild in Montreal up to 6C today and Saturday with lows near 4C. Look for gusty winds as well, up to 50km/h tonight and 70km/h on Saturday. Sunday looks sunny and mild at this time with a high up to 9C.

The St. Lawrence/Great Lakes Seaway opened the 2014 shipping season on March 28 as the Algoma Equinox moved through Lock 3 in the Welland Canal. About a dozen or so ships are currently in the system but are being slowed considerably by the thick ice. Yesterday several ships moved along in a convoy through ice as thick as 8 feet on Lake Superior towards the Soo Locks. They were led by two Coast Guard ice breakers, one from the Canada, the Pierre Radison and another form the USCG, the Mackinaw. The opening is already 10 days behind schedule. Up to 5 ice breakers are working in the St. Lawrence with two tugboats trying to free up the St. Lambert locks and port area. Work will continue to free the entire system  from ice which took until April 27 last year and may last well into May this year according to the Canadian Coast Guard. The Seaway stretches from Duluth, Minnesota to Montreal.

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