Canada already plagued with -50 wind chills, major snow
Wednesday, November 21, 2018, 12:30 PM - Record breaking snowfall, record setting low temperatures, -50 wind chills, impossible driving conditions amid freezing rain and ice. Sounds like the heart of the winter season doesn't it? In reality, ALL of these harsh winter conditions have plagued different parts of the country this fall, leaving little to no areas untouched. Will this be a sign of what's to come this winter or will Mother Nature start to loosen its frosty grip? More on what's happened (keep in mind we had to limit this to just a few main events because the wintry scenes have been endless) and what lies ahead this winter, below.
NORTHERN MANITOBA COLDER NOW THAN TORONTO HAS EVER BEEN
It's currently a tale of two seasons across the Prairies as milder Pacific air and Chinook winds send temperatures soaring to the mid-teens once again in parts of Alberta. That's all while extreme cold warnings cover areas of northern Manitoba where wind chill values are making things feel closer to the -40s. In fact, Thompson, Manitoba recorded a core morning temperature of -35°C on Monday, beating out any cold temperatures the city of Toronto has EVER set in its history.
"The coldest temperature Toronto has ever had was -32.8°C in 1859," says Weather Network meteorologist Chris Murphy. "That means it's been colder in Thompson, Manitoba this fall than it ever gets in Toronto during the winter."
And although Alberta is currently on the "better" side of that storm track, let's not forget the record setting snowfall that walloped southern regions in early October. Calgary ground to a halt after 40 cm of snow hammered the city, prompting appeals to neighbouring cities for additional snow removal equipment.
FEELING LIKE -50: TOO MUCH TOO SOON EVEN BY THE EXTREME NORTH'S STANDARDS
A November chill is by no means rare across parts of our far north, but a recent six consecutive days of record low temperatures with wind chills in the minus FIFTIES does seem a bit extreme.
A wind chill of -52 was recorded on November 18 and 19 in Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut with a new record low temperature of -35.4°C also set on November 18. That beat out the previous record of -30°C set in 1996.
A WHOPPING 160+CM OF SNOW (DID WE MENTION THIS IS NOVEMBER?)
Probably the most impressive scenes of winter we've seen this fall land in eastern Canada where endless systems have completely buried the region. Get ready for this. Since the start of September, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador has recorded a whopping 162 cm of snow with a record-setting October snowfall helping to give these numbers a healthy boost. The town picked up nearly 85 cm in October alone, smashing previous October records, which all sat around 60 cm, in the years of 1999, 1996, 1962 and 1944.
HOW AND WHY COULD THIS BE HAPPENING?
There several contributors to the unusually harsh and widespread arrival of winter weather across Canada this year.
"When we look back at history we see that years with a developing El Niño, November often features a jet stream pattern that delivers arctic air to much of central and eastern Canada and that is what we are seeing again this year," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham. "However, this year we are also seeing what is called 'cross polar flow.'"
So instead of just having arctic air from northern Canada diving south, we are seeing air from Siberia coming over the top of north pole and plunging south into Canada. This is bringing the coldest air in the northern hemisphere right into Canada.
"We also have a blocking pattern in the atmosphere that has resulted in us getting stuck in this set-up for an extended period of time," Gillham adds.
IS THIS A SIGN OF WHAT'S TO COME THIS WINTER?
According to Gillham, the weather pattern during November is typically a poor predictor of what is to come for the winter season, though history does show us a few examples of years in which the dominant pattern for winter did set-up during November. The big question here: Is what we are currently facing a false start to winter or a preview of what is to come?
According to our winter forecast, which will be released in an all day event on Monday November 26th, it depends on which part of Canada that you call home.
"For parts of Canada we expect that the dominant weather pattern will be different from what we have seen during the fall, while others are indeed seeing a preview of the winter to come," warns Gillham.
Be sure to check back to find out which category you fall into with our full winter forecast release on Monday.