Is Old Man Win­ter los­ing his grip early?

Un­usu­ally warm days are bring­ing smiles to ev­ery­one’s face but weather guru says keep those parkas handy

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s not spring. But dou­ble-digit tem­per­a­tures are cer­tainly mak­ing it feel like it is.

By the time this week is over, four tem­per­a­ture records could be smashed in Hamil­ton.

Satur­day hit 13.2 C, break­ing the pre­vi­ous 9.7 C record.

Sun­day hit 12.9 C, eclips­ing the pre­vi­ous 12 C record.

Wed­nes­day hit 14 C, eras­ing the pre­vi­ous 11.7 C record.

And Thurs­day the tem­per­a­ture is fore­casted to reach 16 C, out­do­ing the pre­vi­ous 14.3 C record.

“This is quite some­thing. This has to be one of the warm­est weeks we’ve ever seen in Fe­bru­ary,” said En­vi­ron­ment Canada se­nior cli­ma­tol­o­gist and weather au­thor/guru Dave Phillips. But don’t kid your­self. Win­ter isn’t over yet. There will be cold and snow to come in March be­fore the sea­son is fi­nally over, he says.

By Sun­day, the mer­cury is ex­pected to slip back to tem­per­a­tures more nor­mal for this time of year — a high of 1 C and low of -5 C.

“I think there is still some win­ter left,” Phillips said. “I wouldn’t write the fi­nal chap­ter on it.”

Joe Lind­ley, the owner of Lind­ley Farms, says tem­per­a­tures that get too high, too soon can be of con­cern with fruit trees, straw­ber­ries and rasp­ber­ries, among other plants.

“The prob­lem is when ev­ery­thing breaks dor­mancy and you have a cold snap,” he said. “But I don’t think we are at the crit­i­cal point just yet ... Cer­tainly if we were to have two or three weeks of above-nor­mal tem­per­a­tures like (Wed­nes­day), we could be in to trou­ble.”

Werner Plessl — ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Hamil­ton Wa­ter­front Trust, which runs the Hamil­ton Wa­ter­front Out­door Rink by the bayfront — says the skat­ing fa­cil­ity will be closed un­til at least Sun­day.

“It’s just not hard enough to skate on, so we are tak­ing the op­por­tu­nity to take the ice out and clean it off and, hope­fully, it will get cooler on Sun­day and we can make ice again early next week.”

The Hamil­ton Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity says skat­ing and ice fish­ing at Valens Lake and Fifty Point are sus­pended un­til fur­ther no­tice.

Nor­mally, Phillips said, we would get 32 days of tem­per­a­tures be­low -10 up till the end of Fe­bru­ary.

This year we’ll have 16, half the norm. Last year was an­other warmer-than-usual year with only 22 days at or be­low the -10 C thresh­old.

Two years ago, there were 53 days and three years ago, 52.

It’s meant win­ter sports have taken a hit. “We were told it was go­ing to be a big win­ter. But it hasn’t been,” said Louise Sharp­ley at Ad­ven­ture At­tic in Dun­das.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY BARRY GRAY, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

The HMCS Haida was a lit­tle hard to spot dur­ing a foggy Wed­nes­day. En­joy th­ese balmy Fe­bru­ary days while they last, one weather ex­pert says.

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