Canada Has Warmest and Driest Winter on Record; Some Areas in Arctic and Northern Quebec 6 °C Above Normal
Environment Canada reported that the national average temperature for the winter 2009/2010 was 4.0 °C (7.2 °F) above normal, based on preliminary data, making this the warmest winter on record since nationwide records began in 1948. The previous record was 2005/2006 which was 3.9 °C (7.0 °F) above normal. At 3.2 °C (5.8 °F) below normal, the winter of 1971/1972 remains the coolest.
|Mean temperature departures for winter 2009/2010. Click to enlarge.|
All of the country, but for a small area over the southern Prairies, was above normal, with some areas of the arctic and northern Quebec more than 6 °C (10.8 °F) above normal. Southern Saskatchewan had a cooler than normal winter, with temperatures more than 1 °C (1.8 °F) below normal.
Winter temperatures have remained at or above normal since 1997; winter temperatures have warmed over the last 63 years by 2.5 °C (4.5 °F). The winter season shows the greatest warming of any season, but all seasons have shown a warming trend since 1948.
Of the ten warmest years, 4 have occurred within the last decade, and 11 of the last 20 winters are listed among the 20 warmest.
National Precipitation. Overall, Canada also experienced its driest winter out of the 63-years of record during the 2009/2010 winter: 22.0% below normal. The previous driest winter was 1977/1978, 20.1% below normal. The drier than normal conditions were widespread, with most areas of the country having at least 20% less precipitation than normal. Some areas, including parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario had 60% less precipitation then normal. Only three areas had more precipitation than normal: central Nunavut, northern Quebec, and western Labrador.
Normal precipitation in northern Canada is generally much less than it is in southern Canada, and hence a percent departure in the north represents much less difference in actual precipitation than the same percentage in the south. The national precipitation rankings are therefore often skewed by the northern departures and do not represent rankings for the volume of water falling on the country.
Most winters have been at or below normal since 1977/1978. The wettest winter was 1964/1965, 19.4% above normal.