DrydenNow, KenoraOnline, and Q104 are taking a look back at the top news stories of the year. Today’s story is an interview featuring Peter Kimbell, Environment Canada Meteorologist.
Q: How was the weather in northwestern Ontario in 2021
Looking back on 2021, the main theme was warm and dry. If you look back at January 2021, the only month that was colder than average was February. Every other month was warmer than average, or close to average.
This month has seen some unusually cold weather. The warm weather isn’t over. This month will bring more warm weather.
Q: It’s also been a dry one for the northwestern Ontario. How was the precipitation in the area?
This year has been dry. The year was pretty much below average, with the exception of October and August. October was actually the wettest, with 53 mm of rain on October 10.
However, most of the year was dry, particularly in the summer when the most rainfall was received. Logically, Kenora experiences the most precipitation during the summer with thunderstorms. Except for August, this didn’t happen.
May was 48 percent below normal, while June was 42 percent and July was 66% below the normal precipitation. This is why we saw forest fire activity over the prairies and in northern Ontario this year.
Q: Is climate change responsible for the year’s extreme heat and dry? Or is this a one-off?
You can’t really answer that question except with hindsight. It is possible to answer that question better 20 years later. But, this year was a one off compared to previous years.
2018 was around average in terms temperature. 2019 was slightly cooler than the average. 2020 was also about average. 2021 was a unique, warmer-than-usual year, with the exception of February.
Maybe it is. But we won’t be able to know for sure until we have a look back at 20 or 30 years. It is possible that January and Februarie will be very, very cold by 2022. It is possible. Last year was dryer than usual, but 2019 was wetter than usual. Each year is unique.
Q: You mentioned the cold in February and January. Is it too soon to predict what the first part of the new year will look?
Northwestern Ontario experiences the lowest amount of precipitation. The summer months are the most precipitated.
The average snowfall in December amounts to about 30 centimetres. In January, it is approximately 28 centimetres and in February, it is about 18 centimetres. In the northwest, there is not much snowfall. This pattern will likely repeat.
Temperature forecasts were actually a bit warmer than the average. However, accuracy drops after a week or two. I cannot guarantee what I will see in the new year.