Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay has coldest winter in 35 years, stats say

Environment Canada data confirms Thunder Bay has tied its record for the coldest-ever winter set 35 years ago — and Kenora broke its all-time record.
Thunder Bay had 61 days below –20 C this winter, according to Environment Canada. (CBC)

Environment Canada data confirms Thunder Bay has tied its record for the coldest-ever winter set 35 years ago — and Kenora broke its all-time record.

Meteorologist Geoff Coulson said the temperatures this season have been “incredible.”

“The temperature numbers speak for themselves,” he said.

“We've tied the coldest winter ever at the airport with that winter of 1978-1979. Everything that people have been talking about, in terms of how cold this winter felt and how unrelenting the cold was, definitely seems to be backed up by the numbers.”

The average temperature from Dec. 1 through the end of February was –17.5 C.
Geoff Coulson, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, says a "stubborn weather pattern" will result in temperatures lower than normal until the middle of May. (Supplied)

Another measurement is how many days were especially cold.

“In a normal December, January, February we'd expect to get 43 days with that minimum temperature,” Coulson said. “This past winter we had 61 days that were colder than –20 C.”

On Dec. 31, a temperature just shy of –40 C was the lowest December temperature ever recorded in Thunder Bay. In Kenora, winter was the coldest ever, with an average temperature of –20 C over the months of December, January and February.

The longer-range forecast for the region is also discouraging. Coulson said a "persistent and stubborn weather pattern" looks to be holding to the middle of May, resulting in temperatures that will be lower than normal.

This weather pattern "is difficult to break down,” Coulson said.

"Some of the models are indicating that [colder than normal] trend extending into at least the first half of the month of May" before we get into more seasonable temperatures, he said.

Number of frozen water pipes ‘staggering’

Thunder Bay public works crews could be dealing with broken water mains through to the end of April.

So far this season, there have been 58 water main breaks — a little more than average.

But crews have also been called out to 730 frozen water pipes.

A supervisor in the sewer and water department called that figure "staggering."

"A few days of warm weather will not make a difference,” Gerald Luty said. “The frost is down seven-and-a-half to eight feet deep. I'm probably looking in April, end of April sometime before the frost is gone."

Luty said staff will continue to work on broken and frozen pipes until the frost is completely out of the ground.


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