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A Look Back At The Winter that was ... Or Wasn't ... in Canada

March 19, 2010 — Between mild temperatures, a lack of snow and record-breaking storms south of the border, the weather certainly had people talking this winter.

The winter of 2009/2010 was an interesting one in Canada, mostly because of how different is was from the 2008/2009 winter. Parts of the country went from record amounts of precipitation to hardly any at all. Others went from bitterly cold temperatures to record-breaking warmth.

So depending where you are, Mother Nature may have been kind to you this winter.

'Overall, we got off pretty easy in Canada this winter,' says Weather Network Meteorologist Chris Scott. 'It's interesting that our long range forecast team was looking at the effects of El Niņo. We were predicting a milder than normal winter across much of the west, and likely not as many big storms for the west or Ontario. Well, that came through.'

In November, people in Ontario and Quebec were still enjoying temperatures in the double digits, and parts of the Maritimes had their warmest Fall on record. Still, things changed as December rolled around.

'Winter just came in like a tiger in the second week of December. We had cold air across much of the country -- minus forties in parts of the Prairies!' recalls Scott.

On December 15th, 2009, the Edmonton International Airport saw a record low of -46.1 degrees Celsius and -58.4 with the windchill. That was even colder than the temperatures in the Arctic.

That same month, Ontario was hammered by lake-effect snow. The Muskoka region saw record-breaking amounts. In fact, a two-day storm on December 10th and 11th brought Bracebridge close to 95 cm of snow.

Then came January, and the El Niņo trend became more evident.

'The weather pattern really went quiet, we warmed up in B.C.' says Scott. 'We had some very warm temperatures for the Olympics.'

The weather was so mild in the weeks leading up to the Games, that organizers had no choice but to truck and fly snow in to Cypress Mountain. It was a surprise to some, considering Whistler Mountain saw record amounts of snow in November. Throughout the Games, a combination of rain, fog, melting snow and blizzard-like conditions forced organizers to postpone several events.

On Canada's east coast, it was a bit of a different story. The provinces still got several big helping of snow, but they didn't pack as big a punch as they have in previous years.

'The east coast, yes we've been busy with storms, but we haven't seen any real historic storms that we sometimes see,' says Scott. 'The big storms, the history-making weather, has all been in the States this year.'

It's been an unforgettable winter in the Northeastern U.S. Three major storms rolled across cities like Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York during the month of February, shattering snowfall records. Early in the month, back-to-back storms virtually shut down the nation's capital for an entire week.

It was a pattern that had many people in southern Ontario scratching their heads. The storms remained south of the border, missing the province nearly every time. As a result, cities like Toronto and Montreal saw less snow than usual. However, Ottawa's Rideau Canal was open for 36 days, despite the mild start to the winter.

Then, there was March. So far, every day of this month has brought above seasonal temperatures to the city of Toronto. And just this past week, temperatures were soaring close to 20 degrees. The normal for this time of year? About four or five degrees. Temperatures also soared in parts of the Prairies and Atlantic Canada, shattering records along the way.

For more details on what's in store for the first week of spring, make sure you tune into The Weather Network on TV. Your National forecast comes up at the top and bottom of every hour.

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