Nova Scotia·Q&A

This is what Nova Scotians can expect for weather this summer

Dave Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, spoke with CBC Radio’s Information Morning Nova Scotia host Portia Clark about what Nova Scotians can expect for weather this summer.

Region could see consistent warmer-than-normal temperatures all season

Nova Scotia can expect a warmer than usual summer this year, according to Environment Canada's senior climatologist. (CBC)

With summer on the horizon — and warm temperatures arriving earlier and lasting longer across Canada — many are hoping to avoid a repeat of last year's devastating extreme weather.

Dave Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, spoke with CBC Radio's Information Morning Nova Scotia host Portia Clark about what Nova Scotians can expect this summer.

Their discussion has been edited for length and clarity.

Last year we saw extreme heat, droughts, widespread forest fires — what's the likelihood of such extreme events making a return this year?

I've been in the business for half a century, I've never seen a year like last year. Ground zero was British Columbia, Alberta and the west ... where they started off hot and dry and the seeds of that misery were sown in the winter and in the spring. Well, we're already seeing that area as more wet and cool and windy and cloudy and so the chances of that repeat performance is probably, I think, pretty slim. 

I mean, you can have other misery and we're seeing it in Manitoba, for example, where they had the worst drought in history — worse than the Dirty '30s last year — and now they're underwater. I mean, you can go from slush to sweat or from one extreme to the other and that's what the challenge is for them.

We've already had forest fires here in Nova Scotia, so we're on notice about that. What kind of weather can Nova Scotians anticipate? 

Well, I always look for the water temperatures. The water temperatures are fairly warm around the province and really the region. Our models came out this morning and for June, July and August, it is showing a warmer-than-normal [season], so if you like your summers warm, I think you will like this one.

The other thing that's interesting is that sometimes all of your good summer weather occurs in June when school is still in and vacation hasn't started and it still comes out to be warmer than normal summer, but boy, those two, the big months of July and August were just pitifully poor, but this one looks consistent — really the same weather pattern seems to be locked in.

Now there'll be some days that aren't that great but generally we think the flavour, the personality of the summer coming up is warmer than normal because of the fact that we're going to see more flow from the United States and that of course brings humidity, too, so you might see a bit more uncomfortable tossing and turning at night and that also fuels thunderstorms, but generally speaking, we think it looks delightful. 

Beaches are popular when the heat climbs. (CBC)

When we talk to emergency preparedness folks in Nova Scotia, they always say that the danger of heat is one of their main concerns now. What should we do to prepare to make sure everybody, including vulnerable people, are protected? 

Well, it's true and I always think, don't wait for somebody to tell you it's a dangerous situation. There's no sneak attacks with weather, severe weather in the summertime. 

Even in thunderstorms, you can say, "Well, gee, it's beginning to cloud over and there's distant thunder and lightning and it's beginning to rain" and then all of a sudden, you're hit with something. Thunderstorms and tornadoes don't occur in blue skies and white puffy clouds so there's always a warning so my message would be that people should be their own weather person. 

Somebody once told me the best weather instrument ever developed was a pair of human eyes and you just look up, look out, and you can sense that something's coming and [you should] know what the rules are and know where to go in any situation — if it's at the soccer field or the golf course or the beach or at home, just know what to do when that weather seems threatening. 

Two dogs take a breather in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park. Dave Phillips reminds Nova Scotians to make sure their pets are safe during warm weather. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

I think we should take responsibility for ourselves and certainly if you feel it's warm — heat is often a big casualty for people in the summertime — and so if you've got air conditioning and you're OK, fine, but look [after] people who might be a little bit disoriented. Elderly friends that might not have that central cooling, just to make sure they're coping, that they're OK, that somebody is watching out for them.... If we do a buddy system for the summer weather, I think we'll be happy campers. 

Just on a more practical note, it's nice to have some water bottles in the car wherever you're going so you can hand them out to people who might not have access to that.

Absolutely. It's common sense. So, hey, don't ignore your colleagues, don't just look after yourself, look after others, particularly the elderly, people who might become a little confused or children and your pets. We can't forget our furry friends and make sure that they're dealing with the heat and haze and humidity of summer in a proper way.

With files from CBC Radio's Information Morning Nova Scotia