Last week’s winter storm not a record setter

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News

By Barb McKay

 

Last week’s winter storm may have shut down most of Bruce County for three days, but it didn’t set any records.

 

 

Massive snow drifts and blowing snow forced the closure of Highway 21 for four days last week. Snow banks were as high as 10 feet in some arees. (Barb McKay photo)

 

David Phillips, a climatologist with Environment Canada, told The Independent Monday that the Kincardine area received more snow that most of Ontario during last week’s storm. Kincardine received 29 centimetres of snow on Jan. 5 alone; an amount only surpassed by Barrie, which received 39 centimetres.

 

“Last week’s storm wasn’t legendary, but you were one of the snowiest places in Ontario,” Phillips said.

 

According to Environment Canada, the most snow Kincardine has received in a single day was 51

centimetres on Jan. 11, 2000. But that only matched the record of 51 centimetres that was set on Jan. 14, 1881.

 

The blast of winter weather shut down provincial and county roads throughout Bruce County, including Highways 21, 9 and 6. On Highway 21, snow drifts as high as 10 feet blocked sections of the road. The highway wasn’t reopened until Thursday.

 

According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), the last comparable storm occurred in February 2007, when Highway 21 was closed to traffic for seven days.

 

Liane Fisher, a spokesperson for the MTO, told The Independent via email that crews were out of the roads from Jan. 3 to 10 to clear the roads and push back the walls of snow on the shoulder of the highways.

 

Children enjoyed an extended Christmas break because of school closures and bus cancellations. Schools re-opened last Thursday, but rural buses didn’t return to service until Friday. Municipal offices in Kincardine and Huron-Kinloss were closed until Wednesday and garbage and recycling collections were cancelled last week.

 

Following last Wednesday’s Kincardine council meeting, CAO Murray Clarke praised municipal staff,

particularly public works, for their response to the storm.

 

“It was an exceptional, extraordinary response in a (challenging) storm environment and they deserve recognition.”

 

Kincardine has received approximately 30 per cent more snow so far this year than normal, Phillips said. To date, 180 centimetres of snow has fallen. The normal accumulation is 136 centimetres. In January alone, Kincardine received 53 centimetres of snow.

 

In addition, temperatures have been colder than usual. There were nine days this month where temperatures dipped below -10 degrees Celsius. The average temperature has been -8 degrees Celsius this month. The normal average is -4 or -5 degrees Celsius.

 

“This had been a colder than normal winter, but also more snow than normal and we don’t often get the two together,” Phillips said. “Under colder conditions the air tends to be drier, so you don’t get the snowfall.”

 

However, he added, Kincardine experiences lake effect conditions that result in greater accumulation of snow. The good news is that lake effect conditions tend to be experienced in the earlier part of the winter and dissipate later in the season.

 

As well, while most of Canada is expected to continue to see colder than normal temperatures, the Kincardine area may see a normal winter.

 

Over the weekend and on Monday temperatures in Kincardine were well above zero, which eliminated some of the accumulated snow. While temperatures were expected to dip back down in to the negative digits, they won’t go as low as earlier in the month.

 

We are nearing the halfway mark of winter, Phillips said, which is around Jan. 20. He expects February will be less brutal than in 2013, in terms of cold temperatures. While we can still expect cold days and winter storms, it won’t be unbearable.

 

“It may be that the worst of winter is behind you,” Phillips said.