By: Graham Saunders
The weather of some months or seasons retires with little fuss into annual summaries or spreadsheets. A month with an average temperature warmer or cooler than normal by 1° or 2° will not dominate conversations.
January 2017 in Thunder Bay came in 5° C/8° F warmer than average and the concept of “January thaw” went into a different league. Usually the first month of the calendar year brings one to three days with melting temperatures. Sometimes official melting does not happen at all. This year melting temperatures took place for 11 days in a row, the longest extended melt in weather observations dating back to 1877.
These unseasonably mild conditions and their duration were widespread from Manitoba to Nova Scotia, throughout the northern American States and also extended into several Arctic regions. One of the consequences was a halt to cooling of Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. Ice formation usually continues throughout January but open water in Superior did not decline below plus 2° C/36° F this winter, hence thick ice formation was limited to bays and confined harbours on Lake Superior.
Lakes from Armstrong to the Albany River are presently ice covered although coverage came later than usual. The first two weeks of February have been colder than average. A similar pattern to January, cold replaced by seasonally warm, is likely. This probably translates into a somewhat earlier spring than usual but some years March, although technically a spring month, claims winter status.
Ontario Long Range Weather Forecast
16th-19th. Bitter cold with snow showers and flurries.
20th-23rd. Mostly fair weather for Family Day festivities.
24th-28th. Snow, perhaps mixed with a little sleet/ice.
1st-3rd. Fair weather; moderating temperatures.
4th-7th. Thunderstorms rapidly roll east from western Ontario and points east, all followed by a clearing trend.
8th-11th. Becoming unsettled, especially over the Great Lakes.
12th-15th. Fair and windy.
16th-19th. Showers and gusty thunderstorms, particularly over the Great Lakes.
20th-23rd. Turning colder with frequent snow showers and flurries around the Great Lakes.
24th-27th. Showers, then clearing.
28th-31st. More stormy weather arrives by month’s end.
1st-3rd. Thundery/turbulent weather for the Great Lakes, then clearing.
4th-7th. Fair, pleasant conditions.
8th-11th. Showers, then fair skies return.