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Durham region plans for climate change

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By Rachel Schoutsen
Presenter, The Weather Network
@RachelBTT
Sunday, June 15, 2014, 7:00 PM

“The weather we are going to see is going to be wetter, warmer and wilder” Brian Kelly, Manager of Sustainability for the Region of Durham, told The Weather Network. 

The Durham Region along with a consulting group called SENES pegged the expected climate for the time frame of 2040 to 2049. 

Kelly titled the study the Wayne Gretzky Report because in hockey Wayne knew you had to skate to where the puck is going to be. So when looking at the climate we need to skate and prepare for what our climate is going to become.


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The Wayne Gretzky Report was done by a consulting group from Richmond Hill called SENES and they looked at models on a global, regional and local scales. The findings were tested for accuracy and Kelly mentioned that he is very confident in these predictions. The report covers Ajax, Pickering, Brock (Beaverton), Scugog (Port Perry), Clarington (Bowmanville), Uxbridge (Town of Uxbridge), Oshawa, and Whitby.

Snow days will become less common as we move into the future

Snow days will become less common as we move into the future


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Photo of Pickering, Ontario. More rain can be expected here in the 2040’s

Photo of Pickering, Ontario. More rain can be expected here in the 2040’s

The study was done in order to create a proposed Community Climate Adaptation Plan (CCAP) for Durham Region during 2014. 

Here are some things the Wayne Gretzky Report suggests for Whitby, Ontario during the 2040’s: 

  • Annual total precipitation will go from 869 to 1004 
  • Days per year that the humidex is above 40 will rise from 3 to 19 
  • The average daily minimum in the winter time will go from -8 to -1 
  • Maximum snowfall in one day will drop from 28 cm to 17 cm 
  • Average winter temperatures increase by 5.8oC 
  • Average summer temperatures increase by 2.6oC

*The full SENES report is available on request to climatechange@durham.ca. *

A few years prior the City of Toronto also did the same. They also discovered a rise in temperatures, less snow days in the winter time and more rainfall. 

They also noted that weather will become more violent in terms of storms. 

Here are some of their predictions for the 2040’s:

  • Marked rainfall increase for July (80%) and August (50%) 
  • Heat waves will happen on average 5 times per year 
  • Maximum snowfall in one day will drop from 24 cm to 18 cm 
  • Days per year that the humidex is above 40 will rise from 9 to 39 
  • Average winter temperatures increase by 5.7oC 
  • Average winter temperatures increase by 3.8oC

“Our report about Durham is accurate and we believe that this is the weather we are going to be seeing. We have ordered these kinds of changes and they are being delivered, whether we like it or not, “comments Kelly. 

With the continuing growth of greenhouses gasses our atmosphere is warming. Kelly adds, “we have also warmed our oceans and this is aiding to extreme changes in weather.” 

Now, not all changes are negative. For the “winter-hater” less snow and more rain is an expected pattern for the wintertime, along with slightly warmer temperatures. However, others do have their downfalls, like the increased chance of a tornado in Whitby, Ontario by 53 per cent. 

The first step is knowing the changes. And the second is planning for them. 

“We need to know what the future weather will be so we can prepare our infrastructure and protect our communities. If temperatures are going to become extremely warm then Durham will have to think about building cooling centers like they have in Toronto. We have to think about our drainage systems, can they handle heavy downpours or the flooding we may see in the winter time?” 

Kelly and his team are strategizing plans and find that having this knowledge will allow them to better prepare for the future.

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