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No backyard shinny: Warm winter leaves outdoor rinks unusable in Nova Scotia

Monday, January 18th 2021, 6:00 am - The unusually warm temperatures in parts of Atlantic Canada have caused many backyard rink builders to give up hope for this winter.

There are usually about 15 kids playing shinny on Gregory Kuhn's backyard rink in Milford, Nova Scotia, complete with sponsored pallet boards.

"It's basically this whole side of the street that uses the rink here and they're all pretty disappointed this year that we haven't had the winter that we normally have to get out and flood," Kuhn tells The Weather Network.

Last year, they were skating on Christmas Eve.

David Phillips, Senior Climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, says he is shocked by this winter’s persistent warmth.

"My gosh. Fall has continued right through to the winter. Really quite remarkable. I think it's the persistence of this warming that has surprised me. The fact that every month since September has been warmer than normal and some, like for example Halifax right now, is at least 2°C warmer in January than it normally would be," says Phillips.

Kuhn says many backyard rink builders have already given up hope, but he's sticking to it.

NS melted outdoor rink. Credit: Nathan Coleman Credit: Nathan Coleman

"We haven't had many days of -10°C, when you're building outdoor rinks they want you to have three consecutive nights of -3°C to get your base frozen," says Kuhn.

When comparing one particular winter season to previous years, Phillips says the statistic he likes to look at is the number of cold days.

"You know a cold day on the Prairies might be -20°C, but let's take a cold day in the Maritimes of below -10°C now, typically for example, in Halifax, you'd have about seventeen of those guys by the middle of January, you've had one, one day."

Another clue that is signaling this winter’s unusual warmth is the water temperatures.

"I mean they're like hot tubs out there. We're seeing water temperatures in the Scotian shelf off the coast of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy of 5°C warmer than normal. And for water temperatures, that really is astounding. And I think most of the models from The Weather Network and from Environment and Climate Change Canada, were calling for it to be a warmer than normal winter, so it's not a big surprise,” says Phillips.

“I think the real surprise though, is the fact that you expect sometimes a week of cold weather. Generally, the pattern is warmer but you get one or two episodes of sort of arctic air that come down and remind us which country we live in but it's really been the story across most of Southern Canada it's been warmer than normal and it's particularly that way in Atlantic Canada."

Thumbnail credit: Nathan Coleman

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