Windy winter finally over
With eight foot high snowbanks still standing along some of our country roads, it’s hard to believe that winter officially ended six days ago, on March 20th.
According to Environment Canada meteorologist, André Cantin, up until now, snowfall in the Sherbrooke region is actually below normal, totaling 237 centimeters when the average snowfall for winter is 294 centimeters. “The main reason we have such a significant amount of snow on the ground is because of the cold weather. There was less melting of the snow; it remained on the ground,” explained Mr. Cantin. “Today (Monday) we have 68 centimeters of snow on the ground at Sherbrooke, when the average snow on the ground for this date is 28 centimeters,” he added.
Average temperatures were below normal for the winter, but less so in Sherbrooke than in other regions of the province. Sherbrooke’s average temperature was only .8 degrees below normal while Montreal was 1.3 degrees below normal, Quebec City and Ottawa 2.3 degrees below normal, and 3.4 degrees below normal in La Tuque. “Those numbers may not seem big but they are significant. We usually expect only a fluctuation of .5 degrees below or above the average temperature. A low pressure system, the polar vortex, sat over northern Quebec most of the winter, causing north winds to come down directly from the North Pole into Ontario, Quebec and the East Coast. Normally that polar vortex is more north, but it’s not stable,” said Mr. Cantin. When it was mentioned by this newspaper that we in the Sherbrooke area shouldn’t be complaining so much about the winter, given the numbers, Mr. Cantin replied: “Well, you are the ones who got hit with that ice storm on December 21st.”
Not only did the winter seem colder because of the lower than average temperatures, it was also a very windy winter. “When we look at temperatures, we don’t include the wind chill factor. The winds were well above normal this winter, making a -6 degree day feel like -20. But it finally looks like this weather system will weaken in the next five to ten days. We should have normal temperatures for the weekend,” he concluded.
There is still a huge amount of snow around because it has been accumulating all winter, never getting the chance to melt.