Heavy rain day helps make wettest June on record

By Graham Saunders

First Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2016 For The Chronicle-Journal

Was June wet enough for you? The long-term average rain total for June at the Thunder Bay Airport is 86 millimetres but varies considerably. For example, June 2003 had a total of 35.5 millimetres, compared to an estimated 228 millimetres this year. The previous record was 196 millimetres, set in June 2008.
This June total is slightly higher than the monthly total recorded in May 2012, the time of devastating flooding in Thunder Bay and some adjacent rural areas. Heavy rain totals on June 28 were similar to May 28, 2012 but the “character” and timing were different. The maximum rate in May 2012 was 48 millimetres/hour compared to intensities of about half of this a week ago.
Other factors helped:
• The city was better prepared.
• 84 to about 100 millimetres fell in two periods separated by about two hours.
• Afternoon and evening storm situations are easier to cope with than overnight events. (Most of the rain fell between midnight and 2 a.m. on May 28, 2012.)
An editorial titled “100-year storms every four years” was published in The Chronicle-Journal on June 28. It noted that the frequency and intensity of such severe-weather events is increasing. I noticed “These are not unusual weather events but rather regular summertime storms . . .” in one of the comments. This is not correct.

Read moreHeavy rain day helps make wettest June on record

After the Sands: A low-carbon future in the era of Canada’s dangerous new climate

By Graham Saunders

First published in the Chronicle Journal Tuesday May 10, 2016

Environment North and other local groups recently hosted Dr. Gordon Laxer to speak about his new book, “After the Sands, Energy and Ecological Security for Canadians”. To avoid any confusion “the Sands” refer to the Alberta tar sands, or oil sands, or most accurately, Alberta Bitumen Sands. His book was published last year and summarizes Dr. Laxer’s extensive research into the energy and climate policy of this country. He outlines a roadmap to a low-carbon future for Canada.
His book was among the five short-listed for the 2016 J.W. Dafoe book prize for best non-fiction. Ralph Nader calls Laxer’s book a “myth-destroying blockbuster”. (Historical note: A young Environment North brought Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and author of “Unsafe at Any Speed”, to speak in Thunder Bay in the 1970s.)

Read moreAfter the Sands: A low-carbon future in the era of Canada’s dangerous new climate

Weather Whys, April 21, 2013

April can be the cruellest month
What to write about this week? Spring planting, going to one of our many inland lake systems for camping and boating – hmmm. It is probably not a popular topic but the winter/spring storm that began on Wednesday and then caused highway closures and mainly shut down the city of Thunder Bay on Friday has to grab the spotlight this week.

Read moreWeather Whys, April 21, 2013

Weather Whys, March 24, 2013

Marchuary is almost over
Almost everyone has been comparing this year’s weather with one year ago. Yes, it is different. Barbequing outdoors and turning over your garden would be quite silly this year. Record afternoon temperatures in the low 20s C – it was easy to take. The exceptional early start to spring had some consequences for vegetation, especially spruce trees, but they don’t talk much.

Read moreWeather Whys, March 24, 2013

Weather Whys, March 10, 2013

Winter 6th-warmest on record
It is early March so, at least for some, the winter season is over. This winter featured very mild temperatures for the first half – until mid-January. Temperatures for the first six or seven weeks of winter averaged about 7°C above seasonal. Three extended periods of above 0°C combined with minimal snowfall and resulted in bare ground in mid-winter.

Fortunately, the second stage of winter had a combination of cooler temperatures and several light snowfalls before a few days of very cold nights and days.

Read moreWeather Whys, March 10, 2013

Weather Whys, February 24, 2013

A review of this winter
Today we will look at how this winter compares to normal conditions and if a concept of normality can even be applied to this season. Some people are grumbling about this winter and are ready to move on to another season. Perhaps that’s normal enough.

The first problem with defining winter is deciding when it begins and ends.

Read moreWeather Whys, February 24, 2013

Weather Whys, February 10, 2013

More temperature see-saw in February; Lake Superior and the Upper Great Lakes
Lake levels decline over the winter season. There is usually reduced precipitation directly in the Lake, considerable evaporation and reduced runoff from the surrounding basin. Lake Superior, as a result of spring runoff and rainfall during the spring and summer seasons typically recovers about 30 cm (one foot) by late summer. The Lake is presently about 30 cm (one foot) below its February average. The Greatest Lake is currently 60 cm (two feet) below its long term average.

Read moreWeather Whys, February 10, 2013

Weather Whys, January 27, 2013

December was the third warmest in the Thunder Bay record. It reinforced that 2012 was easily the warmest year in the long term record. For statistical people, last year was about a 3-sigma event, highly unlikely to have happened by chance.

I saw a report that claimed that NASA identified 2012 as a “cool year” for the world. This seemed highly unlikely because NASA scientists at least two months ago had identified 2012 as the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.

Read moreWeather Whys, January 27, 2013

Weather Whys, January 13, 2013

Dangerous weather trends – dangerous policies
It is the middle of winter with exceptionally high temperatures and a massive reduction in energy use for space heating. Yes, there is minimal snow, but much less wear and tear on winter coats, skis and snow shovels. Recent days in the region featured afternoon conditions more typical of early April.

Read moreWeather Whys, January 13, 2013

Weather Whys, December 16, 2012

From world events to our backyard
The United Nations (UN) acknowledged in 1988 that climate change was a critical global issue at a major meeting in Toronto. The UN has scheduled a huge climate change conference every December since the early 1990s. Perhaps the most important was held in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 which resulted in the Kyoto Protocol, a world treaty signed by all countries present.

Read moreWeather Whys, December 16, 2012