Is it winter? Is it spring?
That may be the question many people in Tillsonburg and across the province are asking these days, since the month of January has been anything but normal.
“It’s not only a crazy week for weather but I think January’s going to go in the record books as a crazy month,” said Geoff Coulson, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. “We went from very mild temperatures, then we had very cold temperatures and now we’ve got very mild again.
“It’s almost like Mother Nature can’t make up her mind as to what season this is.”
Some of the wacky weather we’ve been experiencing here in Tillsonburg this week can be attributed to different systems coming into Ontario from across North America.
“It started yesterday (Monday) with the first of a series of systems coming up from Colorado and from the American southwest. That first warm front gave conditions just warm enough to get things above freezing in Tillsonburg and a good part of southwestern Ontario.”
Mild temperatures this January has caused precipitation to fall in different forms.
“The total precipitation for January isn’t far off the mark, but the percentage of that total that’s being made up of rain is definitely much more than we would expect to see,” explained Coulson. “I think that really has been the story so far this winter – is that we’ve received probably equivalent amounts of precipitation this winter but the majority has fallen as rain as opposed to snow because of the mild temperatures.”
This recent rainfall and the anticipated forecast have conservation authorities in the area taking extra steps to keep the public informed. The Long Point Region Conservation Authority issued a Flood Watch late Tuesday afternoon for all areas within the watershed “Mild temperatures and recently received rainfall has melted the majority of the snowpack, resulting in the possibility in local watercourses to rise creating the possibility for flooding in the flood pone areas,” said Ben Hodi, water resources analyst for the LPRCA via a press release. “Water levels are expected to remain high throughout next week. LPRCA staff will continue to monitor watershed conditions.”
The Flood Watch is in effect until noon on Monday, February 4, 2013.
Coulson said that Tillsonburg was one of many locations across southwestern Ontario with notably milder than normal temperatures for the month of January, some days more than three degrees warmer than (long-term) normal.
He noted that despite a recent cold snap, the temperature yo-yo effect will continue this week and into the weekend, with Thursday being a transition day.
“We’re literally going from one extreme to the other in the span of one work week.”
Although Tuesday began rather chilly, Tillsonburg and outlying communities were expected to rival, if not break, temperature records this week as a warm air front through the region pushes temperatures up to 11 degrees by Tuesday evening and to a balmy 14 degrees on Wednesday.
“When this front goes through the temperature could rise dramatically – even in just five or six hours.”
As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Tillsonburg was sitting at just one degree above freezing, but as Coulson pointed out things were expected to change quickly.
“We may only get to that 11 throughout the evening, technically before midnight to call it a high for the day. Then temperatures will stay mild overnight, only going down to about eight degrees and then tomorrow (Wednesday) the forecast high is 14,” he added. “That would be a new record for January 30. The current record for that day is a high of 9.5 degrees that we had on January 30, 2003.”
Coulson cautions area residents to be alert to rapid changes in the weather over the next few days, wrapping up the month of January as crazy and unpredictable as it began.
“The other thing folks need to be aware of is just how quickly this warm air is going to exit the Tillsonburg area,” said Coulson.
“My best advice for the last few days is for folks to be paying attention to the latest forecast because of the changeable nature of the weather – there could be fog, rain, and maybe some thunderstorms over the course of the next two days in the area.”