Persistently rainy west, hot, dry east unusual for Canada, says climatologist

Talking about the weather has been more challenging this summer, because it's been a lot of the same for Canadians — rain and storms in the west, and hot, dry heat in the east, with little variation.

Summer has been 'week after week of the same thing, and that can get kind of boring' says climatologist

Eastern Canada has endured weeks of hot weather, with many cities including Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal seeing temperatures consistently soaring above 30 C. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal/Associated Press)

Canadians, the saying goes, like nothing more than talking about the weather.

But our favourite pastime has been a bit more challenging this summer since most of us have endured the same conditions day after day for months on end.

In the west, there has been unrelenting rain and storms, or "too much weather," according to Dave Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada. 

While in the east, there has been "too little," he said, a string of hot days with little rain. That contrast is unusual, he said.

"In the summertime we can often board a plane, whether you're in Tuktoyaktuk or St. John's or Summerland, and be wearing the same clothes and face the same kind of conditions," said Phillips. "So if there's ever a time when the weather is going to be kind of uniform across the second largest country in the world, it's summertime."

He said all this sameness has felt like "weather reruns."

"Just week after week of the same thing, and that can get kind of boring," said Phillips.

Hot, dry east

Southern Ontario and parts of Quebec have endured long heat waves, said Phillips.

Toronto has already seen 26 days where temperatures reached above 30 C, when the city usually sees just 11 such days in a summer.

"We're probably going to get well above 30 [days over 30 C] because we get them in August and September, so we haven't finished counting those hot days," he said.

There's a blistering heat wave expected all week in many parts of southern Ontario, which has residents bracing for a sweaty mess, or looking to cool off in pools or air-conditioned buildings.

Toronto has already seen 26 days where temperatures reached above 30 C. Usually, the city gets just 11 days a year with such hot weather. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

"The next five days in Ontario is probably going to be the worst heat wave of the summer," he said.

Other cities have also had about double the number of hot days as usual: Ottawa has had 24 days above 30 C when it usually gets about 10, and Montreal has had 15 days above 30 C when it usually gets only about six such hot days.

He said conditions have been similar in the Maritimes, too.

It's been dry, too, said Phillips, with precipitation down 30 to 40 per cent in some areas.

"It's never looked uglier in some parts because the grass is pretty well dead, the trees are suffering from a lack of moisture."

Rainy, wild prairies

It's the opposite in the prairies, which have been inundated with rain all summer after a couple of hot days in the spring.

Saskatchewan has had nine rainy days out of the last 12, on top of months of rain across the region.

"They're just building arks and they're fed up!" said Phillips.

But he said there is an end to the rain in sight — after this Saturday, there will be two weeks of sunshine, and some hot, dry weather into September.

"They'll finally get a good summer and maybe they will forget the kind of wet beginning that they saw."

Heavy rains have hit Calgary and Edmonton, with more than a dozen thunderstorms. Calgary had three times the amount of rain this summer it normally does, and hail of every size fell in the region.

Manitoba saw more tornadoes in July than it usually does in a year.

"It's been a rock and rolling, thunder and lightning kind of summer," said Phillips.

Homeowners Kenny and Kayla Payne pose beside the wet contents of their basement in Fort McMurray on Aug. 1 after heavy rains flooded the area. (Greg Halinda/Canadian Press)

And Fort McMurray, which saw devastating fires this spring, was recently flooded with 85 millimetres of rain in two hours.

British Columbia has been about the only place with changeable weather this summer, said Phillips.

2016 on track to be the hottest year

One of the reasons for the warm weather is El Nino, which saw a band of warm air travel along the Pacific coast.

"Globally, every month since April has set a new record temperature," said Phillips.

This leaves scientists expecting that 2016 will be even hotter than 2015 was, which already broke previous global heat records.

Canadians might not feel that heat, though — Phillips said it's safe to forecast that this winter will be colder on average in Canada than it was last year.

But he said that's not saying much, since last winter was the second-warmest winter on record in Canada in almost 70 years, with an average temperature of 4 C. The warmest winter was in 2010, just barely beating 2015's winter, with an average temperature of 4.1 C.