Weather Predictions for PEI Winter 2015

So the past Friday brought the rude arrival of winter with over 11 centimetres of snow catching many of us off guard without our winter tires on our automobiles. It was three weeks earlier (December 4) than the first winter storm of 2014. It has started discussions about how severe the winter of 2014-15 will be – will PEI receive more snow than last year, the worst in 42 years? Well, here is what the experts say.

Normally, a PEI winter (the months of December, January and February) averages -6 degrees Celsius and receives about 41 centimetres of rain and snow. Environment Canada uses climate models to forecast seasonal weather. Climate models are mathematical equations strung together that describe the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. These equations are calculated using the largest computers in the country, known as supercomputers. Environment Canada forecasts the winter of 2015 to be above normal or “warmer and wetter”. I must mention, however, that Environment Canada’s seasonal forecast models are accurate for Prince Edward Island only 40-50% of the time (which is not significantly better than chance, meaning flip a coin and you’ll have the same odds of getting the forecast correct). Environment Canada’s seasonal forecasts are accurate in Northern Quebec, the southern Yukon and Baffin Island, but here on PEI, not so well.

We all know people who swear by almanacs when forecasting the seasonal weather, so I took a look at four of them. The 2015 Canadian Farmers Almanac forecasts the winter of 2015 as “wintry temperatures, very wet and white”; the 2015 Harrowsmith’s Canadian Almanac says the winter of 2015 will be “drier and milder than normal”; and the 2015 Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac’s seasonal forecast for the winter of 2015 is slightly warmer and slightly drier than normal. The 2015 Old Farmer’s Almanac, the one we are most familiar with as it has been forecasting seasonal weather since its first issue in 1792 (the time of George Washington’s presidency), uses a “secret formula” kept tucked away in a black tin box at the Almanac offices in Dublin, New Hampshire. The Old Farmer’s Almanac makes claims of 80% accuracy of their results, but studies of their forecasts show no better over the long-term than about 50%. The Old Farmer’s Almanac forecasts the PEI winter climate of 2015 to be “mild and dry”.

My own research at the University of Prince Edward Island that examined 140 years of weather observations here in Charlottetown has shown that the climate has definitely gotten warmer and drier, especially over the past 10-15 years or so. And that’s where I put my forecast for the winter of 2015 – to continue the trend and be “warmer and drier”.

Climate is variable, though – it goes up and down – as last year reminded us all too well. Climate is nature’s merry-go-round so it is often difficult to predict the coming season even with supercomputers, secret formulas or historical trends. To emphasize this point, I flipped coins to see what Lady Fortune’s forecast for the winter of 2015 will be – the result being “warmer and drier”. So there are many forecasts made but only one will be correct. Most predictions are for a warmer and drier than normal winter for PEI. I can sure support those predictions, but we’ll have to wait over three months to see who is right.

Predictions of PEI Winter 2015
Source Temperature 

Warmer (+) Colder(-)

Precipitation

Wetter (+) Drier (-)

Environment Canada + +
Canadian Farmer’s Almanac - +
Harrowsmith - -
Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac + -
Old Farmer’s Almanac + -
Fenech + -
Chance (Flip a Coin) + -

. October 2014 turned out to be warmer and drier than normal – the ‘climate normal’ being the average of 30 years of daily observations from 1981 to 2010. During the month of October 2014, the average temperature in Charlottetown was 2.4°C warmer than the climate normal of 8.3°C; and 11 millimetres (mm) or 10% drier than the normal precipitation of 112 mm. The Climate Research Lab observing stations at Winsloe South, Flat River, Orwell Cove, Foxley River, Dingwell’s Mills, Argyle Shore and Cardigan Head all recorded measurements that were warmer and drier than normal during the month of October.

 

Questions? Contact Adam Fenech at afenech@upei.ca or (902) 620-5220

Meet CLIVE!

CLIVE is the Coastal Impacts Visualization Environment, a sea level rise and coastal erosion video game, which allows users to fly over Prince Edward Island raising and lowering the sea level and turning on/off coastal layers to identify areas of risk and vulnerability.

CLIVE is a joint project between UPEI’s Climate Research Lab and the Spatial Interface Lab at Simon Fraser University.

Learn more about CLIVE in this short video presentation.

CBC meteorologist Peter Coade to help launch the 2015 PEI Weather Trivia Calendar

Veteran broPeter_Coadeadcast meteorologist Peter Coade will join authors Don Jardine and Adam Fenech for the launch of “Some weather we’re having!” The 2015 PEI Weather Trivia Calendar. The event takes place Tuesday, November 4 at 6:30 pm at The Pourhouse, above The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse in Charlottetown. Proceeds from calendar sales go to UPEI’s Climate Research Lab.

weatherPrince Edward Island history comes to life in this first ever PEI weather trivia calendar of 365 stories about PEI weather and its impact on Islanders’ everyday lives. Meet the authors, Don Jardine and Adam Fenech, as they visit eleven libraries (and one pub!) across the Island during the month of November.

Come for the launch with Peter Coade, stay for music from singer/songwriter Patrick Bunston.

The 2015 PEI Weather Trivia Calendar brings stories from North Cape to East Point, West Point to Murray Head—and all points in-between over the last 150 years. Calendars are sold at each reading tour event, at all Murphy’s Pharmacies, at the UPEI Bookstore and online at peiweathercalendar.ca.

Coming to a library near you!

Image

Prince Edward Island history comes to life in this first ever PEI weather trivia calendar of 365 stories about Prince Edward Island weather and its impact on Islanders’ everyday life.

Join us as we visit eleven community libraries, plus host a special launch event at The Pourhouse, for captivating stories and photos of PEI’s weather history over the past 150 years, shared by calendar authors Don Jardine and Adam Fenech.

FINAL Calendar Reading Tour Poster

 

A Warmer and Wetter than Normal September – UPEI Tracking Climate across PEI

By Adam Fenech and Don Jardine

The month of September 2014 was warmer and wetter than normal – the ‘climate normal’ being the average of 30 years of daily observations from 1981-2010. During the month of September 2014, the average temperature in Charlottetown was 0.4°C warmer than the climate normal of 14.1°C; and 16.3 millimetres (mm) or 17% wetter than the normal precipitation of 95.9 mm. The Climate Research Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island has established seven climate stations to begin tracking the local climates across the Island. These initial seven (7) stations have been established on private properties at Winsloe South, Flat River, Orwell Cove, Foxley River, Dingwell’s Mills, Argyle Shore and Cardigan Head.

All UPEI stations exceeded the 30-year monthly mean temperature at Charlottetown Airport (‘climate normal’) with the Orwell Cove station the warmest exceeding the climate normal by 1.4°C. The two stations in Kings County at Dingwell’s Mills and Cardigan Head recorded the coolest monthly mean temperatures at 14.4°C. The coldest daily temperature for the month at the UPEI stations was -1.7°C, recorded at Cardigan Head on September 20th. This did not break the extreme minimum temperature record for the month of September on Prince Edward Island of -3.3°C which was recorded at Long River, PEI on September 28, 1971. The maximum temperature for the month was recorded at Winsloe South and Foxley River at 27.8°C on September 5. Equally warm highs were reached late in the month on September 28.

These stations measured varied amounts of precipitation across the province during September 2014, but all were at or above normal.  The highest amounts were at Argyle Shore (although this station is an experimental new device that reports to your iPad and iPhone so its integrity and calibration need to be tested) and Cardigan Head. A significant rainfall event (storm) occurred on September 21st and 22nd depositing 71.1 mm at the UPEI Station at Cardigan Head. An Environment Canada climate station at Cable Head (St. Peter’s) reported a total of 90.8 mm during this event while the Environment Canada climate station at Charlottetown Airport reported 79.2 mm. This storm caused flooding in the southeastern section of Charlottetown near the Holland College Campus where students were photographed wading through knee-high water.

So while the Climate Research Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island is closely tracking the climate across Prince Edward Island, it is not the only one. Canada’s official Meteorological Service at Environment Canada maintains nine (9) hourly climate observation stations plus two (2) daily observation stations across the Island. Environment Canada also supports six (6) PEI climate observers who measure only the depth of snow in wintertime. Provincial agencies such as the PEI Department of Agriculture and Forestry (9) and the PEI Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (5) maintain climate observing stations for their own purposes, be it crop insurance or road conditions. There are many PEI volunteers who report their climate observations through the Weather Underground (14), a kind of citizen science program. And even the Confederation Bridge monitors the climate to report on bridge conditions.

UPEI’s Climate Lab is bringing all of these observations together into one dataset in order to report a current climate conditions map of Prince Edward Island (stay tuned) using the most stations reporting (should be about 46 stations). Over the next few years, the Climate Lab will also be establishing more climate stations on private properties. If you are interested in being a candidate for this equipment, please contact us.

. PEI’s first Weather Trivia Calendar for 2015 titled ‘Some Weather We’re Having’, is available for purchase at bookstores across the Island, Murphy’s Pharmacies and at the website peiweathercalendar.ca. The authors, Don Jardine and Adam Fenech, will be reading from the calendar at libraries across the Island starting at 6:30pm at Murray Harbour (November 3); Cornwall (November 5); Stratford (November 12); Breadalbane (November 13); Summerside (November 18); Montague (November 19); Borden (November 20); Souris (November 25); Hunter River (November 26); and Charlottetown (November 27).

. A fine night of music, food and drinks will re-launch the 2015 PEI Weather Trivia Calendar at the Pourhouse upstairs at the Old Triangle Pub on 89 University Avenue on November 4 starting at 7 pm.

Questions? Contact Adam Fenech at afenech@upei.ca or (902) 620-5220

CLIVE WINS!!!

clive

CLIVE, the coastal erosion visualization tool created by UPEI’s Climate Research Lab and the Spatial Interface Lab at Simon Fraser University, has taken first place in the Massachusetts Institute for Technology’s (MIT) Center for Collective Intelligence contest on Communicating Coastal Risk and Resilience.

Nearly 600 projects were submitted to MIT’s Climate CoLab for this year’s competition. CLIVE made it through several rounds of competition and broke through to the finals against two other projects. Through the support and votes from the UPEI community, CLIVE won the Popular Choice, as determined by online voting.

“I just want to say what a wonderful feeling it is that the UPEI community and campus were so supportive through the competition,” said Dr. Adam Fenech, Director of the UPEI Climate Lab. “To win because of the support of a community, that’s a nice feeling. I’ll not forget this.”

Dr. Fenech and members of his team will be travelling to Cambridge, Massachusetts to receive the award in early November.

To view a video on CLIVE, click here.

UPEI scientist at New York climate meetings

Adam_NY_092014Dr. Adam Fenech, Director of UPEI’s Climate Research Lab, presented CLIVE, the coastal erosion visualization tool, during Climate Week in New York City, recently. Dr. Fenech’s talk was one of a series showcasing innovative tools and planning methodologies at the Rising Seas Summit: Developing Resources to Inform Decision Making and Planning for Resilience.

CLIVE is the Coastal Impacts Visualization Environment, a sea level rise and coastal erosion video game, which allows users to fly over Prince Edward Island raising and lowering the sea level and turning on/off coastal layers to identify areas of risk and vulnerability.

Just days left left to #VOTE4CLIVE!

CLIVE_LennoxIsland_2mSLR_pluserosion_400pxTEASERCLIVE, the coastal erosion visualization tool created by UPEI’s Climate Research Lab and the Spatial Interface Lab at Simon Fraser University, has reached the FINALS in MIT’s CoLab Communicating Coastal Risk and Resilience contest. Now it needs your votes to help it win the Popular Choice award. Click this link! and click “VOTE for this proposal.” It’s that easy!

Nearly 600 projects were submitted to MIT’s Climate CoLab for this year’s competition. CLIVE made it through several rounds of competition and broke through to the finals against two other projects. It is eligible for the “Popular Choice Award,” as determined by online voting, and for the “Judges Choice Award,” based on the project’s merits as determined by a panel of judges.

Voting is currently open and runs until September 30. Log on and vote to support this great co-initiative with SFU and UPEI!

The Summer of 2014: Hotter and Drier than Normal

Remember at the beginning of the summer when headlines across the country were saying that Prince Edward Island was in for a typical run-of-the-mill summer this year, and I was called upon to make a prediction. The Weather Network and Environment Canada said that the summer of 2014 would be “normal”; the Old Farmer’s Almanac said “warmer and wetter”; I said “warmer and drier”; and I had my colleague flip a coin (to demonstrate the integration of probability into the science of forecasting) who said it would be “colder and wetter”. Well, the observations are now recorded – the summer of 2014 was warmer and drier than normal.

Normally, a PEI summer (the months of June, July and August) has an average temperature of 17.6 degrees Celsius and receives about 28 cm of rain. This represents the “climate normal” or the average of 30 years of data, in this case the most recent climate normal titled 1981-2010.  Last year’s summer (2013) was 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer than “normal”, and 30 percent drier than “normal”. But what about this year? Well, let the record show that the summer of 2014 was about 0.8 degrees Celsius warmer than normal (even warmer than 2013) and about 10 percent drier than normal. Less than 1 degree Celsius warmer may not seem like much, but we must remember that the average global temperatures were only 6 degrees Celsius cooler during the last ice age when we had kilometres of glacier ice above our heads in North America. There were 15 extreme hot days during the summer of 2014, three more extreme days than the summer of 2013. “Extreme hot days” are defined by Occupational Health Canada as those days when the maximum temperature exceeds 27.5 degrees Celsius above which it is recommended that outdoor workers have a break every hour.

The summer weather continued to play havoc with our lives this year. Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, on P.E.I. for four days in June to mark the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, missed the morning scheduled events of the first day due to the wet and foggy weather that wouldn’t allow his plane to land on time. Post-tropical storm Arthur was the big weather story of the summer with strong winds sinking three boats in the yacht club in downtown Charlottetown, and cutting power to roughly 5,000 Maritime Electric customers. The storm caused the cancelling of all of the Saturday night performances of the Cavendish Beach Music Festival when travel woes grounded country-music stars Blake Shelton and Darius Rucker. And the PEI 2014 Celebration Zone at Confederation Landing in Charlottetown was closed the day following the storm while staff assessed the site for damage. Arthur also caused some crop damage to the Island’s ripe strawberries by the wind pushing the stems into the fruit. And while one of P.E.I.’s piping plover nests was lost in the storm due to flooding, these endangered species fared better than feared with all of the chicks surviving in the other nests.

The summer weather also brought some positive things. The approximately 200 blueberry farmers on P.E.I. had a bumper crop due to the heat this summer with a sizable yield of larger-than-usual berries. Tourism operators with the Harbour Hippo welcomed the summer’s warmth in July as they recorded sold out tours beginning in July. And several pool and hot tub companies on P.E.I. continued record sales from last year fuelled by this July’s humid weather.

As the sunshine and warmth turn to grey skies and cold, remember the summer of 2014 as one of warmth and dryness. And keep our fingers crossed as December approaches that the winter will not be as severely cold and snowy as last year.

. CLIVE, the coastal erosion visualization tool created by UPEI’s Climate Research Lab and the Spatial Interface Lab at Simon Fraser University, has reached the FINALS in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s CoLab Communicating Coastal Risk and Resilience contest. Now it needs your votes to help it win the Popular Choice award. Register to vote at the  contest website (http://climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1300801/planId/1309316). Nearly 600 projects were submitted to MIT’s Climate CoLab for this year’s competition. CLIVE made it through several rounds of competition and broke through to the finals against two other projects. It is eligible for the “Popular Choice Award,” as determined by online voting, and for the “Judges Choice Award,” based on the project’s merits as determined by a panel of judges. Voting is currently open and runs until September 30. Log on and vote to support this great initiative!

. Remember the 2015 PEI Weather Trivia Calendar can still be purchased at peiweathercalendar.ca or at your local Murphy’s Pharmacy.

Questions? Contact Adam Fenech at afenech@upei.ca or (902) 620-5220

Get voting! CLIVE reaches FINALS in an MIT competition

CLIVE_LennoxIsland_2mSLR_pluserosion_400pxTEASER

CLIVE, the coastal erosion visualization tool created by UPEI’s Climate Research Lab and the Spatial Interface Lab at Simon Fraser University, has reached the FINALS in MIT’s CoLab Communicating Coastal Risk and Resilience contest. Now it needs your votes to help it win the Popular Choice award. Register to vote at the contest website.

Nearly 600 projects were submitted to MIT’s Climate CoLab for this year’s competition. CLIVE made it through several rounds of competition and broke through to the finals against two other projects. It is eligible for the “Popular Choice Award,” as determined by online voting, and for the “Judges Choice Award,” based on the project’s merits as determined by a panel of judges.

Voting is currently open and runs until September 30. Log on and vote to support this great co-initiative with SFU and UPEI!