Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Dismal weather - first Quebec tornado of 2014

It has been a bizarre spring with highly variable weather across all of North America. Tornadoes, a Pacific hurricane, dust storms, hailstorms, snow, heat and cold all in the same month. I snapped this photo of rare, at least to Montreal, Mammatus clouds over L'Ile Perrot early on the morning of May 16.  (ValleyWX Photo)
 Weather is all about balance and the desire for the atmosphere to reach it. It rarely happens and so we are left with such variable weather conditions, at times over a very small region. Such has been the case this week as a backdoor cold front robbed Montreal of what was to be a sunny and warm start to the week. That weather remained close by in Ontario, and all we managed was 22C (72F) Monday, and a pathetic 12C (54F) on Tuesday. Most of the day was spent around 9C (48F) with light rain. If I sound bitter, that is because I am. I love summer, winter is way too long. Enough of this pseudo spring/summer we need the real thing! The west end of Montreal towards the Ontario border had scattered thunderstorms late yesterday, including one on L'Ile Perrot right around 6pm last evening. At one point yesterday afternoon, Montreal was 10C (50F), Ottawa 21C (70F) and Toronto 30C (86F). This morning we are looking at October like weather with drizzle, low clouds and a cool northeast wind. Temperatures are at 10C, the hope is some breaks in the sun this afternoon will help warm things up towards 17C. Skies should clear out tonight with a chilly low of 8C. That will leave us under sunny skies Thursday and a warmer high of 21C.

The first tornado of the season in Quebec occurred near Roxton Falls on Monday. The image above was taken near Laurierville. (Quebec Photo)
First 2014 Quebec Tornado
Along the boundary between this cold front and the warm air was a line of redeveloping thunderstorms, often running over the same area the last two days. The strong storms prompted a tornado warning in central Vermont on Tuesday. Speaking of which on Monday, southern Quebec reported its first tornado of 2014. A thunderstorm produced a weak EF-0 tornado (winds between 104 and 137km/h) near Roxton Falls, Quebec in the Townships. Environment Canada reported minor damage including a roof torn off a barn. Another tornado may have also touched down near Laurierville, but has yet to be confirmed. The storm was tracked by Quebec Vortex storm chaser, Marc Remillard. (See photo above).

Monday, 26 May 2014

More thunderstorms Monday for southern Quebec

A bright sunny day turned quickly late Sunday with the development of thunderstorms on L'Ile Perrot. (ValleyWX Pic)
It was not a bad weekend across southern Quebec, temperatures were rather warm with plenty of sunshine especially early in the day. There were also some decent thunderstorms around producing lots of hail in the Ottawa Valley on Saturday. We can expect another warm day today with an increased risk of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon. The trigger will be a backdoor cold front, one that moves from northeast to southwest across the St. Lawrence Valley. Temperatures today will reach 26C (79F), but will dramatically cool behind the front down to 14C (56F) tonight and not much better than 16C (61F) on Tuesday with showers forecast for Montreal. Wednesday looks like the best day of the week with sunshine and 21C (70F).
Thunderstorms produced lots of hail near Lachute, Quebec late Saturday afternoon. (via Twitter)
After a mainly sunny day Sunday in Montreal, a narrow but strong line of thunderstorms developed and rapidly moved across the St. Lawrence Valley around 6:15pm. There was lots of lightning on L'Ile Perrot along with gusty winds. Little rain fell with only 1.6mm at my home and 4.6mm at Trudeau Airport. The airport did report a wind gust to 65km/h with the storm. Some small hail was also observed across the West Island and off island to the northwest..

Best shot of the weekend showing Memorial Day beach goers lying on an icy stretch of Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan where it was 86F on Sunday. Lake Superior still has lots of ice! (Twitter Pic via @GreatLakesBooks)

Friday, 23 May 2014

Storms miss Montreal so far - decent weekend ahead

It was another day of wild weather in many parts of North America on Thursday, but rather quiet across metro Montreal. A low pressure area over upstate New York produced showers and thunderstorms on Thursday from eastern Ontario into the Champlain Valley and then back north into southern Quebec south and east of Montreal. The odd movement of the thunderstorms circulating around the low pressure meant most of the storms stayed away from Montreal. While 25mm (1 inch) of rain or more fell towards the US border, I measured nothing at my home on L'Ile Perrot and only 1mm fell at Trudeau Airport. Storms south of the border dumped heavy rain in New York and Vermont (1-2 inches). Further south a tornado was reported near Albany, New York, and a severe hailstorm in southern Pennsylvania. The hail in Pennsylvania was the size of tennis balls at times near Lancaster and punched holes in car windows and the roof of a shopping mall. It also damaged the windshield on an inbound US Airways flight to Philadelphia forcing an emergency landing. Hail was several inches deep in may locations.
Deep hail covers the ground in southern Pennsylvania near Lancaster on Thursday. (The Weather Channel)
The same scenario will play out today with the upper level slow slowly spinning across New York with more showers and thunderstorms along the edge of the system. The greatest risk for showers in Montreal will be this afternoon with isolated thunderstorms. Like yesterday some of the storms may be strong with heavy rain and pea size hail possible. On Thursday a severe thunderstorm watch was posted for the region between Montreal and the US border east into the Townships. The only hail in our area on Thursday was reported near Newport, Vermont and along the US border near Stanstead. Temperatures will struggle to reach 20C with lots of clouds in Montreal today. Saturday looks a little better with more sunshine, a touch warmer at 22C, but still the risk of showers and thunderstorms. It should be sunny and dry on Sunday with temperatures up to 24C.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Showers & Thunderstorms - warmer next week for Montreal

Yesterday was the fourth day in a glorious stretch of sunny and warm weather for Montreal. We managed 24C (76F) on Wednesday and we should get close to that as well today. An upper level disturbance in the atmosphere will slide across eastern Ontario and into New York state over the next 24 hours introducing clouds and showers to southern Quebec. The bulk of the activity today will be over Ontario but will expand into Montreal later this afternoon. It will not be a washout by any means but showers are possible right into Saturday. Skies will partially clear by Sunday and we can expect much warmer weather as we head into the last week of May, likely exceeding 27C (80F) next week.
Severe thunderstorms in the metro Denver area late Wednesday produced several inches of hail in some locations. 
(The Weather Channel via Twitter)
The warm air today will be across Saskatchewan and portions of southern Alberta where highs will reach 30C (86F). Yesterday very strong thunderstorms were reported across the southern Rockies northeast into the Great Lakes. A strong storm near Denver produced a tornado as well as several inches of hail. More storms will fire up today from Iowa towards the east coast as well as in southern Ontario.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Severe Weather Awareness - Watch vs Warning

A spectacular image of the only EF-5 tornado (winds in excess of 320 km/h) ever recorded in Canada. The storm struck near Elie, Manitoba on the afternoon of July 22, 2007. (The Weather Network)
With the late but violent arrival of severe weather across the US, it was only going to be a matter of time before we had some here in Canada. Last week the first Canadian tornado of the season was reported in Ontario. Tornadoes can and do occur just about anywhere in North America, but the really violent super cell thunderstorms capable of a major tornado are primarily confined to the central portion of the continent into the US southeast. Unlike a hurricane or snowstorm, tornadoes are very small in scale affecting a few miles to perhaps a few hundred miles in the most extreme case. What they lack in size they make up for in destruction with some of the strongest winds measured on earth. Because it is nearly impossible to measure wind speed in such a severe environment, a scale was created back in 1971 by Ted Fujita from the University of Chicago. Doctor Tornado, as he was known, was a pioneer in the study of tornadoes and estimated wind speed based on the damage he observed after the tornado struck. While modified in recent years, the scale is still used today, the Enhanced Fujita scale measure the storms on a scale of EF-0 to EF-5. The tornado last week in Mildmay, Ontario was an EF-1
The deadly July 31, 1987 tornado that struck Edmonton, Alberta was a powerful EF-4 storm that killed 27 people, injured 300 and destroyed 300 homes.
It is important that Canadians understand that tornadoes can and do occur in Canada. Environment Canada just completed a study on tornadoes in this country. Each year on average 62 such storms develop. The can occur in any province but are most common in Saskatchewan with an average of 18 per year, followed by Ontario with 12.5. Quebec has an average of 4.7 tornadoes, the majority of which occur in and around the southern portion of the province. Since 1980, Canada has reported 1217 EF-0 tornadoes, with EF-1 (478), EF-2 (119), EF-3 (24), EF-4 (5) and the strongest deadliest storm the EF-5, only 1 in Eli, Manitoba on July 22, 2007. There have been other very notable storms over the years including the deadliest ever in Regina, SK in June 1912. Other deadly storms included Windsor, Ontario in April 1973, Edmonton, AB in July 1987, Barrie, ON in May 1985 and Red Deer in July 2000 just to name a few.


Environment Canada with the use of Doppler Radar, provides advance watches and warnings when tornadoes are possible. It is important as we head into the summer season for Canadians to understand the terminology they use when posting warnings. A severe thunderstorm watch occurs when conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms. It is just a watch, so go about your daily routine but keep and eye to the sky or your Smart phone with an app from The Weather Network or other weather provider. If thunderstorms develop on radar and become severe with strong winds (over 90km/h), heavy flooding rains or hail (greater than 2cm in diameter) a severe thunderstorm warning will be issued. Warnings are typically issued for a large geographic region, but the storm may only affect a portion of that region. Be vigilant just the same. Remember to seek shelter when storms occur as lightning remains one of the deadliest components of thunderstorms in Canada. I will talk more about lightning safety in a future post.

If weather conditions become more favorable for stronger storms with rotation, a tornado watch will be posted. They are rare in Canada but do occur. The watch will be for a larger area. If a warning is required it means you should find shelter immediately. A tornado warning will be issued, typically for a more precise area, if a tornado is observed on the ground or detected on radar. Tornadoes typically are short lived in Canada and cover a very narrow path. They are extremely violent with intense winds and very low pressure. You must seek shelter indoors and at the lowest level of the dwelling, away from any windows or doors. If outside find the lowest place to lie flat and cover your head. Many people think a highway underpass is a safe alternative in a tornado, they are not.

Please remember that if any day this summer looks particularly dangerous for strong thunderstorms, I will post an update in advance as well as post any watches or warnings via my twitter feed during the severe weather. Most weather apps have features now that will notify you when watches or warning shave been posted for your region.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Heavy rain tonight for Montreal - cooler weekend

Dark clouds are on the western horizon as a very slow moving cold front inches its way across Ontario towards metro Montreal. This front has been the focus for heavy rain along with some isolated thunderstorms. A conveyor belt of moisture stretches from Cuba to Ontario.Yesterday was a windy and warm day in southern Quebec with 29C (85F) at Trudeau Airport. As expected other areas were even warmer with St. Anicet at 32.9C (92F) and Cornwall/Massena NY at 33C (92F).

The front pushing slowly across New York state and Ontario has been the focus for heavy rain since Monday. The picture above shows major flooding in Gowanda in western New York. (Gowanda Volunteer Fire Dept.)
The aforementioned front will take the next 24 to 36 hours to clear Montreal with rain at times heavy forecast to start this afternoon and only taper off Saturday. Environment Canada has posted a heavy rainfall warning for most of southern Quebec including metro Montreal for 40-70mm of rain (approx 1-3 inches). The ground remains saturated from recent snow melt so runoff could be fast with some flooding possible. Skies will turn partly cloudy by late Saturday and clouds and sun will mix for the balance of the long holiday weekend. It will be much cooler behind the front with temperatures only in the teens. The cool air behind the front was evident this morning in Toronto. Montreal was a warm 22C (72F) at 7am while Toronto was 9C (48F). While portions of eastern Ontario were close to 32C on Thursday Toronto was only 19C. Behind the front very cold air is settling in with frost and freeze warnings in the upper Midwest and even snow in northwest Ontario.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Warm and humid weather for Montreal

A slow moving cold front is producing severe weather in Ontario and the US Midwest. This tornado formed near Cedarville, Ohio around 6pm Wednesday. (Photo Credit: Twitter @MarkBiddinger)
A warm front lifted its way north of Montreal on Wednesday leaving behind a warm and summery air mass. We managed a warm and humid 25C (77F) yesterday and the temperature is already 18C (65F) this morning. Look for a high of 28C (83F) in Montreal and perhaps even a few degrees warmer at some other southern Quebec locations. Winds will begin to increase from the southwest between 30-50km/h today ahead of a very slow moving cold front. That front has abundant moisture and plenty of thunderstorm activity along it that will arrive some time on Friday and remain with us through Saturday night. Heavy rain, perhaps over 25mm is possible late Friday. Temperatures will be warm today (28C) and tonight (20C) and cool to around 22C on Friday. The weekend at this time does not look great with showers expected and cooler temperatures.

This cold front has been affecting southwest Ontario and western New York as well as Ohio for the last three days. Heavy rain has produced flash flooding in western New York. On Wednesday numerous tornado producing thunderstorms were reported across central Ohio. Today more severe weather is likely in Ontario as well as NY, Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Environment Canada has confirmed the first tornado of the year in our country, an EF-1 storm capable of winds up to 177km/h touched down around 5:15pm on Tuesday evening near Mildmay, Ontario. Tree and structural damage was reported but thankfully no injuries.

I am working on a blog entry that explains the frequency and risk of tornadoes in Canada as well as the difference between a watch and warning. I will be posting this by the weekend. Severe thunderstorm season is here, always be weather ready in the summer. Already we have seen two fatalities in southern Quebec as a result of strong winds. Two men fishing on the Lake of Two Mountains were killed last weekend when their boat capsized throwing them into the frigid waters. It is important to know the risk when you head outside each day, whether it simply be the UV index or the risk for lightning and strong winds..

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Unsettled week ahead for Quebec

There is no snow in baseball! Coors Field home of the Colorado Rockies in the snow on Monday. (Rockies Twitter post)
A very weak backdoor cold front has slipped south across the St. Lawrence Valley this morning introducing a cool northeast wind in Montreal. A backdoor cold front is simply a boundary of cooler air moving from northeast to southwest, opposite of their typical movement in southern Quebec.The air behind the front is of marine origin, damp and cooler Temperatures are down from the low 20's we had Monday afternoon, sitting at 9C (48F) this morning on L'Ile Perrot.

That front has very little moisture associated with it but has brought lots of cloud cover along with a maritime air mass. Clouds will prevail for the day and for most of the week, temperatures will be cool today at 17C (63F). The front will wash out later today over New York state setting up a wind shift to the southwest and bringing back warmer air for Wednesday and Thursday. Temperatures will be in the mid 20's both days with perhaps 27C if see a peek or two of sun. By Thursday a very slow moving cold front will produce showers and thunderstorms across southern Quebec and Ontario, lasting into the start of the long Victoria Day weekend. Thunderstorms will be more numerous today across southwest Ontario closer to the warmer and more humid air currently over the southern US. Some of the storms may be severe in nature with hail and high winds being the main threat especially from London to Windsor. Meanwhile snow is falling over northwest Ontario with 5cm in Kenora. The snow has finally come to an end in Denver and portions of Colorado and Wyoming. From 1-3 feet of snow fell across the region with less in the metro area of Denver. The good news is that highs will be close to 27C (80F) by the weekend.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

A little summer like weather for Montreal

It was a windy, warm weekend across southern Quebec, feeling almost summer like from late Friday evening into late Saturday. A little sunshine and some humid conditions on Friday helped fuel some evening thunderstorm activity from eastern Ontario into metro Montreal. A few of the storms were on the heavy side with frequent lightning and heavy rain. Around 11mm fell in Montreal, but Ottawa and some eastern Ontario locations had over 25mm (1 inch) in just a few hours. Temperatures were rather warm on Saturday in the middle 20's and just a touch cooler Sunday under bright sunshine. It was a breezy weekend, 30-50km/h and that will persist into this week. A complex weather pattern this week with high pressure early in the week, and then a series of fronts producing showers and numerous thunderstorms from late Wednesday through Friday. The warm weather will continue with highs in the low to middle 20's and overnight lows around 10C.

An incredible amount of snow has fallen across the Rockies today as far south as metro Denver. The photo above was taken in Albany, Wyoming where 1-2 feet of snow fell today. (The Weather Channel - credit to robk2). Interstate 80 is closed  from Rawlings to Cheyenne because of May snow!
A strong low pressure area in the US southwest is producing heavy snow across portions of the Rockies including a few inches in Denver. Upwards of 1-2 feet of snow has fallen across northern Colorado into Wyoming. Meanwhile east of the falling snow, warm and humid air is producing severe thunderstorms with tornadoes across Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa. Major damage was reported in several small Nebraska communities including Exeter and Sutton on Sunday, May 11. I spent part of the evening watching the live feed from Greg Johnson at and the storms were rather impressive. The good news is that despite all the damage in Nebraska today, thanks to advance warning of up to 15 minutes from meteorologists, no fatalities were reported.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Warmer weather slow to arrive - but it is coming

High pressure will settle across southern Quebec for the middle portion of the week with some much needed sunshine and relatively warmer temperatures near 17C (63F). The overnight hours will be chilly with lows near 2 or 3C. Environment Canada has an advisory out for the risk of scattered frost. There was a little this morning in off island communities north and south of metro Montreal. I recorded a low of 1.1C (34F) at 5:45 this morning on L'Ile Perrot with just a hint of frost on the car. The same will hold true for Thursday morning, with nothing but sunshine forecast today and a few increasing clouds later on Thursday. Warmer temperatures along with a few showers and thunderstorms are forecast for Friday and Saturday before we get a sunny and warm (21C/70F) Mothers Day. As a matter of fact most of next week looks warmer than normal as some of that sultry air that has been gathering over Texas begins to move northeast.

The view from the top of beautiful Mount Washington this past week. Winter remains in control on the top of the 6200 foot peak. Mount Washington is getting ready to start the new visitor season. It is well worth the trip. 
Look for more info HERE. (Mount Washington Observatory Photo) 
Winter is trying to hold on with snow over the weekend in Alberta and a big heavy wet snowstorm in Newfoundland Monday. Nearly 30cm of snow fell in Gander with 10cm in St John's. Closer to home Mount Washington, New Hampshire is only 25F this morning. They have had lots of snow, over 30cm (1 foot) in the past week and remain in winter mode for the time being in hopes of starting the tourist season by Memorial Day weekend. The 12.6 inches of snow to start the month of May is the most at the summit dating back to 2006. The mountain toll road remains closed to regular traffic as snow clearing operations continue.

Monday, 5 May 2014

A slightly better weather week for southern Quebec

Nearly 25cm of wet snow fell across southern Alberta this past weekend in what has been a stupid spring to say the least across most of the country. (CTV News)
The weather typically settles down in May after the turbulent and changeable month of April. This May, not so much so far with lots of rain and even snow this past weekend. Montreal had plenty of rain as a very slow moving upper level low moved from the Ottawa Valley to the Gulf of Maine. Another 25mm or so fell over the city this past weekend as our wet, cool spring moves along. We remain below normal in the temperature department with the flowers and trees seeming to be two to three weeks behind schedule. It looks a little better today in southern Quebec with showers tapering off by noon and perhaps a peek or two of sunshine this afternoon. Temperatures will try to go north of 12 or 13C. Cool tonight down into the middle single digits with followed by a mix of clouds and sun for Tuesday and highs near 13C again. It looks like sunshine and mild temperatures of 17C for Wednesday, it what will likely be the best day of the week and of the month so far. At this time the Mother's Day weekend looks like a split with showers on Saturday but sunshine and warm highs near 21C (70F) for Sunday.

The Trans-Canada Highway in southern Alberta on Saturday.
Over the weekend we had an incredible mix of weather reported across western Canada south into the southern US plains. Calgary and the Rockies had over 20cm of wet snow, this after highs in the low 20's Friday. The snow caused a host of problems from power outages and downed trees to numerous accidents across southern Alberta. The same system also produced snow across the Dakotas and thunderstorms across the central plains. While the snow was forecast in Alberta, strong winds and dry weather helped fuel a major brush fire in southern Saskatchewan outside Swift Current that threatened northern parts of that community late last Thursday. Meanwhile south Texas had record breaking triple digit heat over the weekend with highs in the 90's to over 100F in several locations across the western portion of the state. More heat and very strong, dry southwest winds are forecast today with an elevated fire danger over northern portions of Texas into Oklahoma. A major brush fire in Oklahoma on Sunday destroyed several homes and led to 1 fatality.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

New month - same weather

The damage continues to mount up and down the Eastern Seaboard from heavy rain, flooding and tornadoes. This street in Baltimore collapsed onto railroad tracks as a result of heavy rain. (Washington Post)
If April showers bring May flowers, where are they? More importantly what do May showers bring? I have measured close to 50mm of rain (2 inches) here on L'Ile Perrot since late Sunday night. A little less at Trudeau Airport with close to 40mm. The rain for the most part has remained within the river banks in southern Quebec, with minimal flooding being reported along the shores of Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River as well as Lake of Two Mountains according to Urgence Quebec. Showers will continue this morning in Montreal. It is good to see April over, not a record cold month by any stretch with only around 1cm of snow for Montreal, but damp and dismal just the same. The average temperature at Dorval was 10.6C around 1 degree below normal. We only managed 1 warm day, actually just a few hours on April 14 when it reached 25C. Rainfall was abundant for the month at 135.8mm. The wet, cool start to spring has left little growing in my neighborhood with no leaves to speak of on any of the trees and very few plants flowering.

The weather will be damp again today with perhaps a few peeks of sunshine this afternoon. If we see the sun it will warm up to 16C. Enjoy it as cool and showery weather returns tonight and lasting well into Monday with temperatures around 12C for highs and 7C for lows. The culprit continues to be a slow moving upper level low over the Great Lakes. This system pumped copious amounts of tropical moisture up the entire east coast on Wednesday with major flooding rains in the order of 3-5 inches from the Gulf Coast to New England and heavy rain pushing into Ontario and Quebec. The southern half of the system will move offshore today with improving weather for the deep south and middle Atlantic, while the actual low itself remains slow to traverse our area. I don't expect warmer or dry weather before next Tuesday.