Enjoy mild weather while you can. Forecasters say winter's not done yet
Published Tuesday, February 28, 2017 8:07AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 28, 2017 4:26PM EST
Quebec and other eastern provinces should enjoy a reasonably normal spring, but forecasters expect several more wintry blasts before regularly mild temperatures arrive.
That's what forecasters at The Weather Network, Meteo Media, and Environment Canada are predicting as we roll into March following a very strange past few months.
This week temperatures will stay mild until Wednesday, when 15 to 25 mm of rain are predicted to fall in the Montreal area. After that the temperature will drop to the normal range, with daytime highs around -3 to -6 C.
January and February of 2017 were the second warmest on record for southwestern Quebec.
Chris Scott, chief meteorologist at The Weather Network, says it's all due to the very rapid shift between El Nino and La Nina.
El Nino is the term for warmer than usual water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. Last year's was one of the strongest in history.
Normally that is followed by a two to seven-year switch to cooler water temperatures, also known as La Nina.
Instead, the average water temperatures dropped quickly, then warmed up again.
"Within one year we've gone from a super El Nino, very strong, and then a weak La Nina, and all of a sudden back to El Nino," said Scott. "The speed of that flip is something we haven't seen before."
Scott said it has never happened before in the 75 years of recorded meteorological history.
Dave Phillips of Environment Canada never expected eastern Canada to get such mild weather this winter.
"I certainly thought it would be colder than it has been," said Phillips. "But before winter began, La Nina was dead in the water."
In the short term that means temperatures in Montreal and the Eastern Townships could be a bit warmer than usual this spring.
"The number of melting days is way up. Typically in December, January, February, we would have had 30 of those. We've had 45 in the Montreal area," said Phillips.
However Andre Monette of Meteo Media is predicting there will still be another 50 to 100 cm of snow, along with 150 to 200 mm of rain.
"The month of March could be quite wintry. We will still have snowstorms," said Monette.
Combined with mild temperatures and rain, that could lead to flooding in rural Quebec.
"In the Gatineaus, in Quebec City, there is 50 cm of snow sitting on the ground. In the Gaspé, 90 cm. You have got to get rid of that snow," said Phillips.
"You don't want to go from slush to sweat. You want to kind of ease that snow away or else you'll have major flooding issues."
With files from The Canadian Press