Top 3 P.E.I. weather stories of 2017

Here are the top three P.E.I. weather stories for 2017, as chosen by UPEI Climate Lab director Adam Fenech.

Including a quick peek into the next 30 to 50 years

A July 21 storm knocked out electricity for tens of thousands on the Island. (Chaylon Brewster/Facebook)

Here are the top three P.E.I. weather stories for 2017, as chosen by UPEI Climate Lab director Adam Fenech.

3. July 21 thunderstorm

July 21 on P.E.I. was a day of big rain, big thunder, and hailstorms.

"It was apparently chipping the paint off siding in places like Dingwells Mills. It was quite a storm," said Fenech.

At peak there were 30,000 Maritime Electric customers without power.

At Charlottetown Airport there was 45.2 millimetres of rain recorded. That's more than half of what typically falls in the whole of July.

2. A warm October

The average high temperature in October was almost 4 C above normal.

"We broke some records. Some of the temperatures were 12 degrees above normal," said Fenech.

Beach weather returned to P.E.I. in October. (Deaner & Leeroy/Instagram)

"I made it up to Greenwich National Park and took a dip into the ocean. It was a real fun, warm weekend in October."

There were six days where the temperature rose above 20 C, and only three where it failed to reach double digits.

1. Dry weather

Climate change is having an impact on P.E.I., says Fenech, and it contributed to a drier year on P.E.I.

Rainfall was about a third below normal.

"This summer was particularly dry and it really affected the potato harvest. Our yields were down eight per cent," he said.

Some farms were OK because showers were sporadic. Some places got the rain they needed while others suffered.

Berry producers also had trouble in the dry weather.

The dry weather left some cranberry producers without enough water to flood their fields for harvesting. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"In some cases, like the cranberries, some farms didn't have enough water so they could flood the fields to be able to harvest them. Others were saying the fruit were about half the size of last year," said Fenech.

But the dry weather was not bad news for everyone.

"We'll have winners and losers depending on how the weather is," said Fenech.

"Tourism loved it that we didn't get much rainfall, because a lot of our tourism is relatively local — people coming over the bridge from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia — and a lot of times they'll look at the forecast, and so tourism had a fantastic year."

A look ahead

Every year for the last five years Fenech has predicted the coming year will be warmer and drier. He has been right three years out of five.

Warmer, drier weather could be good for tourism, while agriculture could suffer. (Stephen Harris)

He's saying the same thing about 2018, and while acknowledges annual predictions are tricky, there is little doubt about the long-term trend.

"When we use the most advanced science, the largest computers we have, it tells us as well that the future is going to be warmer and drier period for P.E.I., certainly for the next 30 to 50 years," said Fenech.

With files from Island Morning