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Canada: Warm vs. Cold


Talk about a switch in seasons! Ottawa goes from winter to summer
Talk about a switch in seasons! Ottawa goes from winter to summer

Staff writers

March 21, 2012 — Who's warm, and who's cold? It's a tale of two seasons, and neither is spring. While winter has been hanging on in parts of Canada, summer seems to have made an appearance in others. What's causing this trend?

Heavy snow this week in Provost, AB
Heavy snow this week in Provost, AB

What a week it has been across Canada. 

While the calendar officially marked "spring" on Tuesday, it was looking more like winter in some parts of the country, and feeling more like summer in others. 

People from Saskatchewan to the Maritimes have been enjoying a side of patios, golf courses and beach fronts with their record-breaking heat and sunshine. 

Meanwhile, in Alberta, residents got their week started by shovelling snow off their driveways and sidewalks. 

And, on the country's two coasts, cool temperatures have been plaguing cities like Vancouver and St. John's. They've also had plenty of wet and windy weather to boot. 

So, what's going on? 

"The jet stream is a big reason why we've been experiencing this kind of weather," says Dayna Vettese, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. "Over the last little while, we've had a trough in the west and a strong ridge in the east."

That trough in the west has brought British Columbia a combination of heavy rain, snow, strong winds and below-normal temperatures in recent days. As one system after another made its way over the Rockies, sections of Alberta got a taste of winter, as well. 

The second dip in the jet stream has been occurring near Newfoundland. As a result, the winter season has also been hanging on in that province. 

All-time March temperature records set Wednesday
All-time March temperature records set Wednesday

Still, it's been a very different story in the central sections of Canada. 

"Parts of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes have been right under that ridge," explains Vettese. "That's led to warm temperatures coming from the southern United States."

Hundreds of temperature records have been broken in Canada over the last two weeks. On Wednesday, some cities broke their all-time record for the month of March.

Still, this weather trend won't be sticking around forever. 

"This pattern will be changing toward the end of the week," says Vettese. "As the jet stream begins to flatten out, we'll see temperatures return to more seasonal values."

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