Canadians brace for a cold spring start coast to coast
Forecasters predict a grim start to spring across the country to top off a long, long winter
As the saying goes, "the first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another."
Canadians from coast to coast have been waiting patiently to put away their parkas and put on their spring jackets, but weather forecasters say that may not be for a while.
The official change of season to spring will be at 7:02 ET Wednesday. However, there will be no winners or losers in the weather game of chance as all Canadians will face equally miserable weather.
According to David Phillips, a climatologist with Environment Canada, spring has not sprung anywhere across the nation.
"If we sent out search parties for spring, we would not find hide nor hair of it," Phillips said. "Everyone is in misery, and everyone has a cross to bear."
Alaskan, Siberian air stream responsible
According to Phillips, the weather on the first day of spring will be miserable across the country. Every region will be either windy, rainy, wet, snowy, drifty, blowy or there will be a big snow dump to clean up.
The frosty temperatures are coming from an air stream arriving from Alaska and Russian Siberia — a complete turnaround from last year when Canada experienced record-breaking temperatures in March. Last year’s pleasant refuge from winter came thanks to an air stream from the southern United States.
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The weather Canadians are experiencing in March 2013 is, according to Phillips, historically quite normal and unremarkable.
"Compared to last year, it's a good old fashioned winter," he said. "It's not a conspiracy or end of climate change, it's just the kind of spring closer to normal than last year."
Though the winter weather may have begun around Halloween, it’s showing no signs of letting up until after Easter.
Forecasters are calling for a warm April and a warmer than average summer.
On the West Coast, Vancouver will be ringing in spring with days of cold rain.
The Prairies will be cleaning up a big dump of snow off their streets, and though the wind might be moderate and the sun might shine, Prairie cities will suffer brutally frigid temperatures.
'Nature's taking her sweet time'
On Wednesday, the windchill in Winnipeg will dip down to -37 C.
In Saskatchewan the first day of spring brings days of snow and temperatures falling to -27 C. The extreme weather in Saskatoon is putting a chill on the housing markets: Trends show residents are waiting for warmer weather to list their homes.
Montreal, managing one of the snowiest winters in 30 years, is celebrating spring with a massive cleanup after a storm on Tuesday dumped 26 centimetres of snow on the city. The rest of the province is joining Montreal in digging their way out of winter.
Ontario will see lower than normal temperatures and, according to Phillips, will feel like the "dead of winter."
The Ottawa Valley is clearing up a snowfall of 20 centimetres, with temperatures around 0 C.
Windsor, Ont., usually one of the first regions to warm up, is cold and snowy with weather mimicking January's temperatures.
"Until spring arrives there, it won't arrive anywhere," Phillips said. "Nature's taking her sweet time delivering what we want."
The Maritimes will see freezing temperatures at night and wet conditions during the day.
"My advice always to Canadians is that it’s too premature to take your snow tires off and put your snow shovel away," Phillips said. "If it’s any consolation, there’s always someone worse off than you."