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By the numbers: Southern Ontario's dry summer

Michael Carter

Thursday, August 11, 2016, 12:32 PM - Though we are looking forward to the potential for beneficial rain late this week, the summer to date across southern Ontario has been unusually dry, with many areas currently experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions.

If the low water levels and brown lawns aren’t enough to tell the story, here are the numbers on exactly how dry it has been, from a few observation stations around the region:

For the period of May 1 – August 10, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has recorded only 107.2mm of rain. That’s well below the average of 243.08mm for the period, and in fact ranks as the second driest year on record at YYZ. Only 1959 was drier, at 96.2mm.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Hamilton Ontario has seen its seventh driest summer on record and its second driest since 1960, recording only 135mm compared to an average of 251.62mm for the period.

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One of the driest locations in the region has been Peterborough, which has only tallied 83.5mm of rain between May 1 and August 10. The long term average from the same period is 241.02mm. This is Peterborough’s second driest year for the same period, especially impressive since continuous records go back to 1891. To find a drier year you have to go all the way back to 1914, when only 69.1mm fell during the period.

Dry conditions have been the most persistent near Lake Ontario, but almost all of southern Ontario and Quebec are showing deficits. For example London, Ontario has reported 185.3mm of rain since May 1, almost 90mm less than the long term average of 272.35mm. Montreal is also running well below normal, with only 175mm reported compared to an average of 282.29mm. This ranks as Montreal’s third driest summer to date, behind only 1970 and 1971.

It’s worth noting that while widespread dry conditions have been the rule this summer, a few areas have received significant downpours. Summertime precipitation is highly variable over small distances, which was well illustrated late last month as the GTA experienced a near miss from a potentially devastating 100mm rain event.

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