With a soul-crushing 21.5 centimetres of snow dumped on Orillia yesterday, we are inching toward breaking a record that has stood for more than 40 years.
According to local amateur weather watcher Dave Brain, this month’s total snowfall – 35.5 centimetres of the white stuff – is just 10.2 centimetres off the mark set in 1975. With colder-than-normal temperatures in the forecast, the record could be shattered.
“With today’s snowfall, this is the sixth snowiest April since records began being kept in 1871,” Brain told OrilliaMatters Saturday night.
The average snowfall for April is 8.4 centimetres.
While we’re nearing a record, Brain said “it’s not unusual to get systems like this in late March and April when we see a battle between warm sub-Tropical air and cold Arctic air.” He explained the cold air from a large system in northern Ontario continues to strengthen.
“We knew precipitation amounts were forecast in the 60 to 100 millimetre range, but in what type was the question,” he said, noting ice pellets are heavy with water content, making a centimetre of Ice pellets the equivalent of 10 centimetres of snow.
“Sunday, the warm front will return north, getting us back above freezing early Sunday evening,” Brain predicted.
That will likely mean ice pellets and freezing rain will develop by mid-morning and continue for much of the day before changing to rain. He said we could receive 20 to 30 millimetres of freezing rain that could lead to ice buildup on tree limbs and hydro lines, creating the possibility of widespread power outages.
So, is this global warming?
“Global warming is slowly happening, but Analogs put together with computer programs look back at weather as far back as the 1950s and they can find similar patterns,” Brain said.
He also said that’s why keeping records is vital. “We tend to forget past patterns,” said Brain, acknowledging that March and April have been colder than normal but similar to the same time periods in 1984, 1993 and 2003.
While the dumping of snow kept many homeowners busy with shovels and snowblowers, it also meant long days for emergency services personnel. OPP in Central Region responded to more than 500 collisions Saturday.