Monday, 6 April 2015

Major pattern change will finally bring spring to Montreal

The newly constructed bulk carrier CWB Marquis was the first ship into the St. Lawrence Seaway system for 2015 on Thursday, April 2. Unfortunately she ran aground due to ice just a few hours later near Beauharnois. (St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation Photo)

We are finally seeing in our future a marked pattern shift in the weather for Eastern Canada. As we all know, 2015 has seen one of the coldest starts to any year for many locations. The warmest temperature so far in 2015 at Trudeau Airport in Montreal has only been 12.8C (53F), recorded this past Friday. Of course that was followed just a few hours later by 5-10cm of snow across southern Quebec. Easter was windy and very cold, only reaching plus 1C (34F) in Montreal, well below the normal high of 9C (48F). Monday and the start of this week will be no better as we remain along a stalled frontal boundary separating much milder air to the south with the cold air damning over the St. Lawrence Valley and points north. It could have been much worse this weekend with very heavy snow, strong winds and bitter cold temperatures for April occurring over portions of northern Maine, Eastern Quebec and New Brunswick.

The bad news for Montreal is we are looking at an unsettled week as that front meanders back and forth across the valley. Temperatures will remain below normal with a mix of wet snow and rain at times. There will only be a little sunshine. The good news is that we see a major shift in the pattern allowing warmer more spring like weather to arrive by next Sunday. We should see lots of melting and the warmest temperatures of 2015 by Sunday into Monday next week Highs will reach 15C by next weekend.

The St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping last Thursday, April 2nd, about two weeks later than normal and the latest since 1997. As with the 2014 season, thick ice had delayed the opening and is currently causing further navigation problems. The Canadian Coast Guard is using no less than 5 ice breakers to try to clear the seaway of ice. It was not the best of openings as the first ship through the locks in St. Lambert only made it about 35km southwest of Montreal before an ice flow caused the ship to run aground early Friday. The newly built Canadian bulk carrier CWB Marquis encountered the ice near Beauharnois, Quebec, not far from my backyard here on L'Ile Perrot. Two tugs set the ship free several hours later after the Transportation Safety Board of Canada gave the all clear. The ice, more than three feet thick in places,  is still breaking up on the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. Large ice flows will continue to be problematic for several more days at the very least.

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