Well, March has definitely come in like a lamb. The sunshine last week started the melt, and the rain over the past few days has reduced the snow we have left into a a few dirty banks along the roads and slushy remnants in the forest shadows. Although I predicted a milder winter this year due to a moderate El Nino, this level of spring warmth in early March is unlike any I have ever seen.
As it turns out, the mild weather in northern Minnesota is only the tip of the iceberg (so to speak). This winter has been the warmest and driest on record in Canada.
I will let the article speak for itself:
From the balmy Arctic, to the open water of the St. Lawrence and snowless western fields, this winter has been the warmest and driest in Canadian record books.
Environment Canada scientists report that winter 2009/10 was 4 C above normal, making it the warmest since nationwide records were first kept in 1948. It was also the driest winter on the 63-year record, with precipitation 22 per cent below normal nationally, and down 60 per cent in parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
"It's beyond shocking," David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada, told Canwest News Tuesday. Records have been shattered from "coast to coast to coast."
"It is truly a remarkable situation," says Phillips, noting that he's seen nothing like it in his 40 years of weather watching. He also warns that "the winter than wasn't" may have set the stage for potentially "horrific" water shortages, insect infestations and wildfires this summer.
As much of Asia, Europe and the U.S. shivered through and shovelled out of freak winter storms, Phillips says Canada was left on the sidelines.
"It's like winter was cancelled in this country," he says...
It says the long-term record shows Canada's climate has changed, most markedly in the winter, which has warmed 2.5 C over the last 63 years.
"The winter season shows the greatest warming of any season, but all seasons have shown a warming trend since 1948," says the summary. Of the 10 warmest winters, four have occurred within the last decade, and 11 of the last 20 winters are listed among the 20 warmest.
This winter was a standout, with records being shattered from B.C. to Baffin Island to the Great lakes. The North saw extraordinary temperatures, with three regions setting "a new high mark" — the Arctic tundra 5.4 C above normal, Arctic mountains and fiords 5.3 C above normal, and northwestern forest 4.2 C above normal.
Spring has now arrived in many parts of Canada with cherry trees in full bloom on the West Coast, and Phillips says, "crocuses already blossoming in Labrador."
The warm, dry winter could spell big trouble this summer. "One of the greatest things about our winter is it kills bugs and diseases and resets the clock for us," says Phillips. Or, it used to. He says many pests are sure to be thriving after this year's warm winter.
"Everything weird, wild and wacky that happens this summer people will trace back to the year without winter," says Phillips, noting that soil moisture in the western Prairies is very low.