We’re Halfway to Spring!

This winter in Canada has been characterized by fluctuating weather patterns, alternating between unusually warm conditions and an exceptionally cold snap affecting a vast area. As we endured the ups and down, even the most enthusiastic winter fans began to yearn for the warmth and brightness of spring.

Though we’re still in the midst of winter, we’re roughly at the halfway point. A careful look around reveals encouraging signs and positive developments. One notable change, despite the current freezing temperatures, is the gradual increase in daylight. In the coming three weeks, most major Canadian cities will enjoy around an hour more of sunlight.

Toronto, for instance, will see an increase of nearly 50 minutes of daylight from January 20 to February 10, as the sunrise occurs earlier and the sunset later in the day.

In northern regions, the change is even more pronounced, with sunlight reaching further north as the weeks progress.

By early February, Calgary is expected to gain 67 minutes of daylight, mainly due to the later sunset, extending the daylight hours enough for an evening stroll.

This additional sunlight in the northern hemisphere will slowly warm the atmosphere, ushering in early spring-like conditions further north.

Currently, many parts of Canada are experiencing the coldest phase of the season. However, the latter part of January typically marks the lowest average temperatures nationwide.

In the Greater Toronto Area, for example, average high temperatures start to increase slowly after reaching around -2°C by January 20.

On the Prairies, average daytime temperatures gradually approach freezing again through February and March.

This year’s weather is also influenced by a strong El Niño in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which has generally maintained warmer conditions for the first half of the winter. Despite the recent freeze, this pattern is likely to continue, bringing warmer-than-average temperatures to many Canadians.

For more tangible signs of spring, look to the United States. The onset of spring is evident in the behavior of wildlife and plant life.

In the southern U.S., spring peeper frogs start their chorus as early as February’s first weeks. Early bloomers in Florida and Arizona signal the northward progression of spring, eventually reaching Canada.

Warmer conditions in southern North America shift the jet stream northward, potentially leading to more intense storms in Canada, which could bring warmer air and rain further north.

However, winter is far from over. There’s still a significant portion of the cold season ahead.

In Western Canada’s interior, average high temperatures don’t surpass freezing until February or March.

Late winter and early spring often bring severe snowstorms to the Prairies, driven by the same moisture that raises temperatures and brings rain to the south and east.

Significant snowfall remains common in major Canadian cities like Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and St. John’s well into the astronomical spring, often continuing into April.

As we pass the halfway mark of the climatological winter, the cold wind persists, but brighter days are on the horizon.

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