One more winter storm is likely coming to southern Ontario

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Published February 1, 2024 at 1:42 pm

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It’s Groundhog Day tomorrow and the persistent lack of sun and mild temperatures may have some thinking winter hasn’t even started.

But Environment and Climate Canada senior climatologist David Phillips believes there is still winter weather on the way.

“We’ve never cancelled winter, and this is about as close as we’ve ever come to cancelling winter in the Toronto area,” Phillips tells insauga.com.

Although the long-range forecast calls for milder than usual temperatures, Phillips expects the area could get one more blast of winter.

“I would say we haven’t seen the snowiest day and we likely have not seen the coldest day,” Phillips says, adding, “…the long-range models are saying warmer than normal, so I could be all wrong.”

And so far it has been unusually mild and very dreary.

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Looking at records from Pearson Airport in Mississauga, there were only eight hours where the sky was actually clear, Phillips says. And most of those hours were at night.

One was at 10 a.m. and the other at 4 p.m. Meaning, we didn’t get to see the sun in a fully clear sky for most of January. There may have been brief appearances through clouds but mostly it was grey and overcast.

Normally, there should be about 50 hours of clear sky and generally more sun in January, Phillips says. Colder temperatures generally bring clearer skies, he says.

And there were fewer cold days. Typically, there are 14 days where the temperature dips below -10 C but this year there were only seven of those days.

There was also a lot more rain this year this January — 72 millimetres of rain were recorded where normally there would be about 25 millimetres. Snow was at about normal levels — 27 centimetres of snow, where normally there would be 30 centimetres.

“It was wetter than normal, almost like a Vancouver kind of January,” Phillips says.

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In December, also at Pearson, there were only 13 hours of clear skies where normally there are 41 hours.

“Of those 13 hours, there was only one hour where you could actually see the sun,” Phillips says.

The other clear-sky hours happened after the sun set.

December was also unusual for the fog. There were 213 hours of fog where the normal would be 124 hours, he says.

Overall, it has been a gloomy winter.

“I think January and December were both very depressing and morose, and people were felt like as if they were cheated,” Phillips says.

But a look ahead to the weekend and next week is sunny and mild. The highs are above zero for the week. After that, it’s hard to know for sure, but Phillips says don’t give up on winter.

From February to the beginning of May, there is typically an average of 46 centimetres of snow in the GTA.

“So you haven’t finished shovelling, plowing and pushing (snow) yet.”

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