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CINDY DAY: January thaw on the coldest weekend of the year?

Snow and freezing rain on Jan. 17 made roads conditions very poor to drive on. Schools remained closed Jan. 18.
Are we turning the corner? - Tina Comeau

I have great news to share with you:  the worst is over!  The “dead of winter”, typically ranging from Jan. 19 to 29   is almost behind us!

Cindy Day is chief meteorologist for Saltwire Network
Cindy Day is chief meteorologist for Saltwire Network

OK, I’m not prepared to say that it won’t get cold again but I can tell you that according to climate data, we are turning the corner.  In fact on paper, this should be the coldest weekend of the year!

A quick scan of the temperature trends from west to east reveals interesting regional differences across the country.  Generally speaking, the coldest day of the year varies from Jan. 2  in Victoria, B.C., to Feb. 2  in Halifax.  Based on 30 year averages, the western half of Canada typically reaches its climatological coldest day in late December; here in the east, we bottom out towards the end of January, in fact, right about now. 

It takes a little longer here at the east coast thanks to a steady delivery of ocean water coming down from the Arctic called the Labrador Current. I guess you could say it’s our Gulf Stream’s alter ego! Regionally, these coldest winter dates can and do vary with altitude and snow cover.  Snow reflects sunlight and temperatures struggle to warm up even on a sunny day!   

So having said that, who really cares? Aside from almost every Canadian, this is important information for many economic sectors that monitor this type of data in order to anticipate product demand.  The  fuel industry is one such user.  These temperature trends can also provide planning tools for the healthcare, construction, and tourism industries.

So while it’s far too early to put away your winter coat, winter haters can find solace in the fact that, at least according to climate statistics, the worst is behind us!

Cindy Day is chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network

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