Seasonal Forecasts, Dartboards And A Skittish DogBy Mark W. Law (Jun 11th, 2012)
“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it!”
– Mark Twain
I’m just a short-timer here in southwestern Ontario (6 years is hardly a ‘cup of coffee’ in this league) so every summer seems to be a new experience, weather-wise. Let’s just say that coming from the Wet Coast you knew that October to April were wet and stormy and April to October were dry and moderately hot. It might have been boring but it was consistent!
Global warming has, of course, tossed a monkey wrench into seasonal weather forecasts, so much so that I am hearing from my relatives on the Wet Coast that Spring, let alone Summer, has yet to arrive! And looking at the stats on Teeswater.Ca there are a lot of nervous weather watchers in this part of the country.
So who has the ‘dope’ on what the weather holds for us – now to Labour Day?
Off to Environment Canada’s website I went, to be confronted with some majorly impressive graphs and statistic analyses. The only problem is what do they all mean (taking into account I worked for Env Canada for 15 years!)? After a half hour scratching my head and hitting the back and forward buttons – not to mention dragging some ‘ancient’ meteorology theory from the dark cobwebs of my brain – I came to the conclusion that we can expect a near to slightly above normal temperature pattern and slightly below to normal precipitation. Hmmm… sounds like something a computer would come up with.
At Environment Canada there is one person you can trust to give you the right steer about what’s coming. Sadly I looked top to bottom on the site and couldn’t find mention of David Phillips seasonal forecast summary. Too bad, as David Phillips, senior Climatologist at Env Canada, can usually nail down the trends in 100 words or less (no pocket calculator or slide rule required!).
I finally found David Phillips, not on the Env Canada site, but rather in an online interview with The Montreal Gazette!
Here is what he has to say:
“A dark, cool and damp spring should give way to a summer that’ll be warmer and dryer than normal, according to Environment Canada. In its preliminary summer forecast, the national weather service said temperatures will be above normal, but can’t say yet by how much. As well, there are no guarantees that it will top last summer, which was the third warmest on record and had low amounts of precipitation.
“But right now, things are looking like a warmer than normal summer from coast to coast to coast,” David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada, said.
Warm air coming from the south could mean more haze and humidity for eastern and Central Canada this summer, Phillips said.
Phillips said the weather models are predicting less-than-average amounts of rain for this summer. British Columbia is expected to see below normal amounts, the western Prairies are expected to be wetter than normal, Central Canada will be about normal and Atlantic Canada is anticipated to be below normal.”
Now isn’t that simpler than a ‘deterministic probability forecast’?
To be sure I checked across the road, so to speak, at The Weather Network:
“According to The Weather Network outlook, a seasonal to warm summer is expected across the country. Eastern BC, the western Prairie provinces and much of Atlantic Canada have the greatest chance of seeing above normal temperatures and extended periods of warm conditions. With the warmth out west will come near normal precipitation with pockets of drier than average weather. The east will see near average precipitation though southern Ontario, the upper St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Seaboard could become more active.
Ontario: It will average out to be a normal summer in terms of temperatures in Ontario. Near normal precipitation is likely for most of the province with wetter than normal conditions possible for communities close to the Lake Ontario lakeshore and ones along the Saint Lawrence River.”
Slightly different but plausible…
One last check, two out of three being a good number…
The Farmer’s Almanac only seems to go out two months in our area, based on Kitchener, and they may still have jars of bear grease in water in the basement, but for what it’s worth here’s what they have to say:
“JUNE 2012: temperature 17.5°C (1°C above avg. east, 1°C below west); precipitation 105mm (50mm above avg. east, avg. west); Jun 1-4: Heavy rain, then showers, warm; Jun 5-10: Scattered t-storms, hot; Jun 11-13: Sunny, cool; Jun 14-22: Scattered t-storms, then sunny, cool; Jun 23-30: T-storms, warm, then sunny, cool.
JULY 2012: temperature 19.5°C (1°C below avg.); precipitation 65mm (30mm below avg. east, avg. west); Jul 1-5: Scattered t-storms, warm; Jul 6-13: A few showers, cool; Jul 14-16: Sunny east, t-storms west; warm; Jul 17-22: Scattered t-storms, hot; Jul 23-25: Sunny, cool; Jul 26-31: Scattered t-storms, warm.”
Hmmm… I think I will come up with my own seasonal forecast system. It will be simple and straightforward, a piece of plywood nailed outside the back door. It it’s wet in the morning I will expect ‘above normal precipitation’, dry = normal, gone = my neighbours had a fire in the firepit last night.
I might even go high tech and add some sticky notes to the board – Partly Cloudy, Sunny, Scattered Thunderstorms etc. Then with the door to my office open I can let fly with a dart or two and ‘fine-tune’ the forecast.
All in the name of technology development of course, though Baxter is giving me that look that tells me he will be spending the summer on the front porch…