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Looking ahead at Ontario's spring season


Staff writers
March 5, 2012 — A mild and dry winter might spell trouble for allergy sufferers in Ontario.


Projected spring temperatures across the country
Projected spring temperatures across the country

Many people across southern Ontario seem to be okay with the fact that they've only had to shovel once or twice this winter, but that may have an impact on the spring season ahead. 

Take farmers, for example.

We spoke with Mark Wales, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

He told us about garlic. It's one of the first crops to come out of the ground, and if it comes up too early and a late season cold snap moves in, the entire crop could burn up.

It could be a similar situation with trees budding too soon, due to mild temperatures.

“That could be a big problem,” says Mark Vanderwouw, a certified arborist with Shady Lane Tree Care. "If we get a late frost or a hard frost, those buds will be killed off," he says.

"It may not be the end of the story for a lot of the healthier native trees, but you might lose some flowering on your crab apples and maybe some of your small flowering shrubs and trees. Tulips will be the same thing. If bulbs come up early, and you get a hard frost you’re going to lose all of your tulip bulbs," Vanderwouw says, noting that many insects could have survived the winter because it never got that cold.

That’s similar to what Dr. Harold Kim told us about allergies and mold.

A cold snap could spell trouble for new tree buds
A cold snap could spell trouble for new tree buds

At his practice in Kitchener he noticed an increased number of asthma patients being impacted by mold in January, which he says is usually unheard of.

“In a normal winter, there would be snow on the ground, temperatures would be below zero and we wouldn’t see outdoor mold levels. But when there’s no snow on the ground there’s a possibility of mold spores and mold allergens being higher and certainly those mold allergens may lead to asthma symptoms.”

Dr. Kim is anticipating an early allergy season as trees will be budding and pollinating earlier than normal in southern Ontario.

But what can we expect in the northern parts of the province?        

Meteorologist Dayna Vettese suggests that it really depends on what part of the north you live in.

“Northern Ontario can really be divided into two: the northeast and the northwest,” she explains.

“Northeastern Ontario has seen near normal snowfall amounts, so they’re okay for the winter. But the northwest has seen near record-dry snowfall amounts. So if we have another dry spring, that raises concerns for a dry summer, thus forest fire season could be fairly bad.”

To find out more about what you can expect this spring, check out the 2012 Spring Outlook.

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