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News Release

Ontario Weather Review

February 2012

The pages on the calendar may keep turning, but warmer-than-normal temperatures are still with us. This temperature trend has been with us in Ontario since July 2011.

This month, the mean temperatures rivaled record values set back in 1998. That year, February was exceptionally warm. The year that followed was slightly colder, but well in excess of normal values.

Mean temperatures across the province in February 2012 exceeded normal values by differences ranging from 3.7 to 6.8 degrees Celsius. New high mean temperature records were set or equalled this month at Peterborough, Toronto Pearson, and Trenton.

February’s precipitation was generally unremarkable in terms of major variations from normal.

Severe Weather

After a relatively quiet first few weeks of February, Mother Nature made up for lost time with a series of storm systems that brought either significant snow or a messy combination of precipitation to various portions of the province.

Late in the day on February 23, an intense storm system approached southern Ontario from the American Southwest. A number of forecast models indicated that the system would track south of the lower Great Lakes and provide a swath of snow from Sarnia through Toronto and into the Ottawa area. The storm was to start in southwestern Ontario during the early morning hours of February 24 and then spread eastwards from there. Snowfall warnings were posted for these areas in anticipation of a noteworthy snowfall. However, during the early morning hours of February 24, the storm system unexpectedly slowed down and took a more northerly track. This allowed warmer air to move into southwestern and portions of south central Ontario, changing the expected snow into a messy mix of snow, ice pellets and rain. The storm’s more northerly track resulted in the snowfall warnings being pushed further north as well, ranging from the Bruce Peninsula eastwards towards the Ottawa Valley. By the morning of February 25, areas from the Bruce Peninsula eastwards to the upper Ottawa Valley had 15 to 20 centimetres of fresh snow on the ground. The system lingered in extreme Eastern Ontario during the day on February 25, depositing even more snow. In the Cornwall area, 21 centimetres of snow fell on February 24 and it was followed by an additional 23 centimetres of snow the next day, providing a two-day storm total of 44 centimetres. This two-day total accounted for more than half of the snow Cornwall received during the entire month.

On February 26, a storm system that came out of the American Plains states moved towards the upper Great Lakes. Systems of this nature normally move at a fairly brisk pace, and don’t usually leave much more than general snowfall accumulations of 5 to 10 centimetres. This range of accumulation was what fell over much of northwestern Ontario; however the Thunder Bay area proved to be an exception. As the low tracked through central Minnesota, it slowed somewhat, and this allowed additional moisture to be drawn from Lake Superior. The low continued to move slowly south of Lake Superior during the day. This resulted in strong and gusty winds from the east pushing bands of snow over the Thunder Bay and Superior West regions. There were a number of hours of poor visibility in a combination of snow and blowing snow. By the evening hours on February 26, the area had received approximately 20 centimetres of snow, with some areas reporting even higher amounts. This constituted the biggest snowfall of the winter so far for the region and matched the amount of snow that fell during the entire month of January.

Temperature and Precipitation Tables
Record high mean temperature readings (in °C), ranked by variation from normal:
LocationMean TempNormalDifferencePrevious record
Peterborough-2.5-7.75.2-3.0 (1998)
Toronto Pearson-0.3-5.45.1-0.3 (1998, tied)
Trenton-1.5-6.34.8-1.6 (1954)
Unusual mean temperature readings (in °C), ranked by variation from normal:
LocationMean TempNormalDifferenceWarmest since
Pickle Lake-10.7-17.56.81998
Sault Ste. Marie-3.5-9.76.21998
Thunder Bay-5.9-12.06.11998
Sioux Lookout-8.6-14.35.71998
Red Lake-10.1-15.25.11999
North Bay-6.7-10.94.21999 (tied)
Toronto City0.9-3.24.11998
Unusual precipitation readings (in mm), ranked by variation from normal:
LocationPrecipitationNormalDifferenceDriest since

Media: For more information, please contact:

Jack Saunders
Communications Advisor/Media Relations
Environment Canada – Ontario

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