More warm weather ahead in Barrie area
Jasper, a six-year-old malamute-shepherd mix, cools off at Barrie City Hall water fountain Wednesday. Environment Canada is expecting the warm weather to extend into the fall but is calling for a more traditional winter. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO
There will be no payback from Mother Nature for one of the Barrie-area's hottest summers on record.
Nor from last winter's mild temperatures says David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.
“It's not as if nature is going to try to make up, all in one swoop, for two of the warmest seasons we've ever had,” he said.
“Nature's never wanting to get even, it doesn't work that way.”
Fall arrives at 10:21 a.m. Thursday, ending a Barrie summer with 32 days where the temperature soared above 30 Celsius, when eight days is normal. And it was not only hot, but dry – although August was well-watered.
Phillips says the good news is that summer will continue into fall, at least for a while.
“The best money says we should expect summer to be over Thursday, but that doesn't mean the end to the summery-like weather,” he said. “We think that the next month into October will be warmer than normal.
“And we shouldn't fear that just because we've had a winter that was cancelled (2015-2016), and an exceptionally record-warm summer, that all of a sudden nature is going to turn on us and give us the fall or winter from hell.”
The carryover from a hot summer to fall this year does come with some potential consequences, Phillips said.
“What all that means is you've got a lot of residual heat in the lakes, in the land, in the rivers and that heat has to be given up,” he explained, “so if you get any kind of cooling it will be somewhat moderated as it wouldn't be in other years.”
That doesn't mean we're not going to get frost on the pumpkin or that the snow won't fly before Remembrance Day. That's always a risk in this area, particularly when the lakes are so warm.
“If we did happen to get a really cold spell, coming from northern Ontario or the Arctic, and that's possible in mid-to-late fall, it could turn on that lake-effect snow engine,” Phillips said.
“Everything is based on the difference in temperature between the air and the water. The water is warmer and if the air is pretty cold, that gradient is going to really produce some good lake-effect snow.”
So what type of winter does lie ahead, after basically not having one last time behind two of the toughest winters on record?
Phillips says Environment Canada is predicting a more normal winter, but one which will contrast the past one.
“It may be warmer than normal, but it will seem longer and tougher than last year because – I remember last Christmas and it was the balmiest Christmas on record,” he said. “We really didn't have snow issues until January and they were pretty well over in February.”
Phillips said the first part of this coming winter could be the calmest, the toughest part might well be the last of January, February and early March
“There will be more polar air, more arctic air, but the lakes may be frozen over by that time, so you may not have the lake-effect snow you would have in other years,” he said.
“The fall will be pleasant and winter will not be a long, stormy night.”
Not everyone in the weather forecasting business agrees.
The Farmers' Almanac is predicting exceptionally cold, if not downright frigid, winter weather will predominate over parts of the Rockies, Prairies, Great Lakes, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces.
But Phillips says the Almanac forecast a similar winter last year, and that didn't happen.
“This coming winter will be more of a winter than we had last year, because we didn't have one last year,” he said. “There were moments, yes. But it was not a mean kind of a winter at all.
“Well this one's going to be more of a winter. Not brutal, nature's not going to balance this out on our backs, given the fact we had that summer and the past winter.”
The polar vortex weather of 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 isn't expected to put in an appearance this time.
“We always have the polar vortex, but it's a question of how long it lasts,” Phillips said. “The year before and the year before that, it hung out in our back yard and wouldn't leave. The polar vortex always migrates south, but then it gets kicked back up there.
“People thought we had invented this thing called the polar vortex. . .no, it's been around since the 1950s. It's just that it dominated day after day, week after week and then month after month, which produced one of the coldest winters.”
It will be a winter with something for everyone who enjoys the outdoors – skiers, snowmobilers, even those who like walking in the sunshine.
The change from one winter to the next might be what Canadians in all parts of the country will now experience regularly.
“I think that's the new reality, that you go from one extreme to the other and that's why this one may be a little different. It may be something for everybody, within the same winter,” Phillips said.
“What we've had in the last two or three or four winters is back-to-back some of the contrasting type of winters. The previous two were two of the coldest back-to-back winters we've ever had.
“We haven't had a good, normal winter in a long time.”
Winter arrives Dec. 21.