Astonishing percentage of Canada currently covered in snow
Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 12:14 PM - Want to impress your friends at the water cooler, or perhaps your family around the dinner table with some snowpack gossip? Snowpack is running well above normal for mid-April across a wide swath of the country.
Yes, it snows in April every year in Canada. Most of us seem to forget it, but it happens.
But where? And who’s been left out of all the snow fun this past winter and early spring? Two parts of the country deserve special attention - Ontario, you’re up first.
Something is a little unusual, by mid-April standards; the extent to which snow cover pushes into southern Ontario is, climatologically speaking, an outlier for this time of year. Most of southern Ontario’s April snow events occur during the first couple of weeks of April, but the snow extent as we trudge through the third week of April is most extraordinary.
Ice coverage for the middle of April isn’t particularly unusual - it’s closer to the norm - but there’s tremendous variability with ice cover as we look at past years.
Yes, six percent of the current area of the Great Lakes are covered by ice.
Last year, barely a sliver of ice remained (0.4 per cent) exactly one year ago. But, if we look back at 2014, for example, the middle of April still featured a whopping 40 per cent ice coverage on the lakes; incidentally, 2014 was the year the polar vortex was added to the lexicon of numerous Canadians.
And to find more hefty ice concentration for this time period, we only need to travel back to 2015, where mid-April featured 17 per cent ice coverage across the Great Lakes Basin.
Remember last year? Not a snowflake to be found around Southern Ontario:
The only ice coverage on that map, I might add is that little red speck near Thunder Bay. That was it. There’s your 0.4 per cent.
Let’s head west and analyze the Prairie provinces.
See anything unusual?
Calgary and Edmonton, which usually feature quite arid and dry climates, have been inundated with snow the past few months. Flooding concerns are heightened this spring with snowmelt, so we’ll have to keep a close eye on heavy spring rainfall events (and their upsloping potential), and to what extent the snowpack melts over the next several weeks.
Last year, the same region wasn’t nearly as impacted by heavy snowfall, and there were serious voids in the snowpack by mid-April across the Prairies. This, ultimately contributed to drought conditions that developed during the summer of 2017.
We can time-travel back, and get a good representation of how the snowpack looked, exactly one year ago:
Alberta you’ve effectively chipped away at most drought conditions as of April 2018, but southeastern Saskatchewan and Southern Manitoba are still dealing with severe drought conditions, this spring.
B.C., it's a little more difficult to spot the major differences over the past year in your snowpack, but there are a few notable differences. I’ll lay the photos right on top of each other, so you can better see the regions where there’s a noticeable uptick in snowpack:
If you look closely, the most significant differences are across central B.C., especially the mountains surrounding Williams Lake.
Record amounts of snowfall in some of the lower elevations in the interior of B.C. were observed during this winter season, with a persistent storm track across the heart of B.C. in February. The peaks surrounding the Okanogan have a healthy snowpack reserve, while the North Shore towards the Lower Mainland also feature healthy snow conditions for mid-April as well. For B.C., there’s no immediate concerns for a rapid forest fire season to develop, or a summer filled with severe water shortages, but a long-lasting ridge or a blocky pattern this summer filled with persistent ridges of high pressure could change these parameters rather quickly.
Finally, the upper trough pulls out of Ontario and Quebec by this weekend, and a lot of Canadian communities may be able to put away the snow shovels for the season. Yes, that means the snow tires can also come off for those of you in Southern Ontario.
Calgary, never put your snow shovel away (you know better), but signs are a ridge will develop over the next 10 days and finally flush the region with bouts of seasonal-to-above seasonal temperatures. Well deserved, but we’ll carefully monitor the flood threats for Alberta.
Canada, we did it.
We’ve shaken the worst temperatures winter and spring can throw at us. There’s no indications of significant cooling trends and widespread below seasonal temperatures throughout the remainder of April!
WAS YOUR SPECIFIC REGION MISSED?
Scroll back up and watch the video at the top, that gives a more in-depth look at your region in 2018 and a look back to the previous year as well.