Canadians should expect more extreme weather this summer, says Global News’ chief meteorologist, after a fast-moving storm resulted in 10 deaths in Ontario and Quebec over the long weekend.
“We’re definitely going to see more thunderstorms throughout the summer,” Anthony Farnell said Tuesday. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a more active than normal severe weather season, from the Prairies all the way to the east coast.”
The long weekend’s storm marked an early start to the severe weather season, he said, though he noted the circumstances of the storm were a “once in a decade” event that included a unique setup of a slow-moving cold front and unusual heat and humidity out in front of it.
The storm brought strong winds that knocked down trees and power lines. As of early Tuesday morning, 74,000 customers were still without power near Ottawa, while Ontario’s Hydro One said more than 148,000 customers were still affected by outages. The deaths occurred under different circumstances but some were struck by falling trees and branches.
While Environment Canada sent a text warning to residents about the storm over the weekend about 30 minutes ahead of when it hit, Farnell said that system could be improved and warnings could be delivered faster, possibly hours before the storms arrive. He said residents should take warnings seriously and seek shelter immediately, and should consider preventative measures such as trimming dead trees or branches on their property.
While 2021 was marked by extreme heat and wildfires out west, Farnell said that “thunderstorms will probably take centre stage” in 2022.
“It’ll be different extreme weather (this year),” he said.
Farnell is predicting less of a fire season in 2022 as a cool, wet pattern is expected to continue into June. Heat domes in 2021 that broke temperature records in B.C. and led to the destruction of the town of Lytton are hard to predict, Farnell said, but he thinks this summer will be more humid than the last. Tornados are also a possibility in some more central provinces.
What can we expect in the way of hurricanes in 2022?
Farnell’s warning comes as the U.S.’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there is a 65 per cent chance there will be an above-average hurricane season in 2022.
The agency said Tuesday that there will likely be 14 to 21 named storms during the season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Of those storms, six to 10 could become hurricanes with winds above 74 mph, while three to six could be Category 3-5 hurricanes that have winds of 111 mph or higher.
Farnell said it is the third straight year the weather effect known as La Niña has persisted, which means there will be warmer-than-average seas surface temperatures in the Atlantic and a more active hurricane season.
The NOAA also released the names it will give to the hurricanes in alphabetical order.
Bob Robichaud, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Centre, said Tuesday that 2021 was a very active season with seven hurricanes, four of which became major storms. He expects this season to be “pretty similar.”
However, Robichaud said it is “impossible to say where these storms are going to go at this point and time.”
“Where these storms go depends on the weather of the day,” he said. “But chances are pretty good we’re going to see an active season in the Atlantic.”