When we look back at the Weather of 2012, it's hard to think of a bigger story than the unbelievable warmth. From January through the Spring, Summer, Fall and now into the early Winter, warmer than normal temperatures have been the normal! We also had that powerful Storm named Leslie, the forest fires burning in Labrador and some serious bouts of fog in the East. (But I guess that's every year) Here's a look back.
THE WINTER THAT WASN'T
2012 started with a bang. Following a quiet start to Winter, it was a few storms per week across NL and finally some Snow for Newfoundland. For Western Newfoundland, it was 3 storms in 3 days which finally put some Snow on the ground for good. However in St. John's and out into Central Newfoundland, it wasn't until late January when Winter ACTUALLY kicked in with snow. In Gander, it took until January 27th to pick up more than 10 cm of Snow in one single shot!
In Metro, Winter was pretty much contained to a 3 week period from January 20th to February 9th. Over that 21 day period, it snowed everyday, we had 5 Snowstorms, 113 cm of Snow and our average temp was -4.2° That was by far our coldest and snowiest stretch. However on February 12th, a massive 70-100 mm flooding rainstorm was pretty much the end of the Snow and the Winter for St. John's.
Here & Now Viewer Don Piercey spotted 7 robins in his St. John's backyard on Feb 29th.
In the end, for much of Newfoundland last Winter was the 9TH STRAIGHT WARMER than normal Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar, Winter season.
THE WINTER THAT WAS
In Labrador however, for the first time in a few years, Winter actually arrived! Winter Snowfall totals finished 100 cm above average in Labrador West. For the first time since the Winter of 2008/2009, Happy Valley-Goose Bay recorded a solid snow base of 100 cm from January 14th to March 15th! For the first time since 2008, Winter temperatures in Labrador finished either average or just slight above average for most.
Picture taken in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in January 2012. Courtesy: Kristin Simms
WE HAD A SPRING
When I posted the question "what was the biggest weather story of 2012" to you on Facebook and Twitter, more than a few of you replied "We had a Spring!". And what a Spring indeed. This past April was the warmest April ever recorded in St. John's, which is impressive given records go all the way back to 1874!
22 ducklings and their Mother enjoy a swim at Bowring Park on May 22nd, one of the warmest May days in history. Picture Courtesy: Kathleen Chafe
By May, records were being broken all over the place! Badger, Cartwright, Gander, La Scie and Happy Valley-Goose Bay all hit 30 degrees on May 22nd. One of my favourite stats from that Crazy Day in May, Gander and Badger both hit temperatures that were warmer than ANY day in the Summer of 2011.
Of course, it wasn't all roses. A look back at my blog from early May and again in early June, proves we still had our usual long bouts of foggy conditions!
WHAT A SUMMER !
No doubt, many will point to the Summer of 2012 in NL and rate it as "The Best Ever"... and maybe that's because it was! In many cases it was the 2nd warmest "warm season" on record, second only to 1999. Looking back, perhaps the most notable thing about the Summer was it's length. Usually the Summer is far too short, however this year our first 20 and even 30 degree days were in May and our last ones were in September!
A surfer rides a wave in New Melbourne, NL on the Northwest side of the Avalon Peninsula. Picture Courtesy: Evan Mark
In Newfoundland, the 20 degree days just piled up in June, July and August! In just 3 months St. John's recorded 55 days at 20+, while Gander had 65 days and Deer Lake had 71. But it wasn't just the warmth, but the lack of rainfall as well. In St. John's, it was also our 3rd driest Summer over the past 10 years. St. John's and Gander each had 30 days completely rain free through June-July-Aug. Deer Lake had 42 days with no rain! It really was an amazing summer. Of course there were plenty of comparisons of our awesome Summer, to the dreadful Summer of 2011, however this was one of my favourites. This graph looked at the first 11 days of August 2012 to August 2011 in St. John's.
In Labrador, June was spectacular, almost too spectacular. Just 60-70 mm of Rain fell in the month of June and with temperatures hitting the 20 degree mark 18 times in both Labrador City and Happy Valley-Goose Bay things became too dry. In the Upper Lake Melville region, where the mercury actually hit 30 degrees, 3 times in June, forest fires were a growing concerns in June. Thankfully, things eased with a bit more rain in July and August. However in the end, just 200 mm fell at YYR over the 3 summer months, that's 100 mm below average.
As we moved into September the amazing Summer seemed to extend for many. St. John's recorded it's warmest Summer ever at YYT. Gander tied it's 2003 record for the warmest September on record. In the end, there may be no better proof that we had an amazing Summer than our number of 20 degree days from April to September. Note: St. John's ended up with one more 20 degree day on October 16th, bringing the total to 79. Thanks to Rodney Barney for making this chart and doing all the digging for the numbers.
Of course, September was notable for another reason. Hurricane Leslie transitioned into a Post Tropical Storm just before making landfall along the South Coast of Newfoundland on September 11th. The Storm was still just as powerful as a Category One Hurricane and the winds we as advertised. Gusts 120-140 km/h toppled trees, power poles and of course the odd shed or two!
Leslie was the 5th Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Post Tropical Storm to hit Newfoundland in the past 4 years. Hurricane Bill (2009), Hurricane Igor (2010), Hurricane Maria (2011), Post Tropical Storm Ophelia (2011), Post Tropical Storm Leslie (2012). It's certainly been an active few years, as far as Tropical Storms are concerned.
As mentioned above, September was fantastic for most and the warmest on record in St. John's. October pretty much picked up right where September left off in terms of temperatures. At St. John's YYT, October was the 3rd warmest on record. It took until mid-October for the cold air to arrive into NL. That's when Labrador finally had it's first significant shot of Snow and that's also when Newfoundland finally had temperatures drop below freezing (at night) for the first time since the Spring.
Labrador City picked up 15 cm of Snow on October 17th. Pic courtesy Alex Noel.
Temperatures across the Province in October and November were again, well above average. Note some of these numbers will be adjusted slightly, as the Environment Canada Climate Site is still missing data at the time of this post.
October & November Monthly Average Mean Temps
Lab City: Oct 2.7° & Nov 3.6° warmer than normal.
HV-GB: Oct 2.4° & Nov 2.6° warmer than normal.
Deer Lake: Oct 2.7° & Nov 1.1° warmer than normal.
Gander: Oct 2.5° & Nov 2.9° warmer than normal.
St. John's: Oct 2.4° & Nov 2.2° warmer than normal.
As you can see above, November was another one warm one, however we still had a few healthy shots of Snow. Labrador West had a 3 day, 50 cm Snow event in late November and we even had a taste of Snow to end the month in Newfoundland as well.
Interesting Fall Stats.
-St. John's didn't dip below the freezing mark until November 11th, the latest date ever to hit that mark. Previous record was Nov 3rd 2003.
-St. John's was the last Provincial/Territorial capital in Canada to drop to the freezing mark this Fall.
-Port aux Basques and Stephenville set new records for the latest date to drop to the freezing mark.
-Gander didn't record any Snow until November 8th (3cm), which was the 2nd latest date for that to occur.
-We still have a few days to go and the temperature data is somewhat incomplete for December across NL. Having said that, it still looks very likely that December will also finish well above normal across the Province.
I think we can all agree that 2012 was certainly the year of the big warm up. It will be very interesting to see how this carries over into 2013.
ST. JOHN'S RECAP
As we move into the New Year and the final numbers come in, I'll be digging into the 2012 numbers a little further. However as of now, it appears 2012 will likely finish 2nd on the list for the WARMEST YEAR on record at St. John's YYT and perhaps for Newfoundland as a whole.
For St. John's, here's a 2012 recap:
-Warmest April ever recorded. (Records back to the 1870's)
-Warmest July/August combo in almost 30 years (1984)
-The most 20 degree days ever recorded in 1 year at YYT.
-Warmest September ever at YYT.
-2nd Warmest April to September "warm season", second only to 1999.
-3rd warmest October at YYT.
-Latest date ever recorded to drop to the freezing mark. (November 11th)
-This is still tentative, but likely the 2nd warmest year recorded in St. John's .