Warmer-than-usual August? Blame the U.S., climatologist says
Published Thursday, August 9, 2012 8:50AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 9, 2012 11:18PM EDT
Canadians looking forward to kicking back outdoors in August aren’t going to be left out in the cold as hot and dry weather continues to drift north from the United States.
The warmer-than-normal weather that’s both dogged and delighted Canadians this summer is likely to stick around in August, said Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips.
“Our models are suggesting that if you’ve left your holidays to August you’re not going to be disappointed,” he told CTV’s Canada AM on Thursday.
High heat and humidity has been a recurring forecast for most Canadians this summer, particularly in Central Canada where the mercury lingered in the high 30s in July. That month, the entire country was warmer than normal, save for a small portion of the Yukon, Phillips said.
But to what do Canadian owe the warm weather?
In this case, the United States shoulders much of the blame, Phillips said. Hot and dry conditions have blanketed the U.S. this summer, predominantly in the Midwest where the country’s worst drought in 56 years is wreaking havoc on corn crops.
Canada’s neighbour to the south recently smashed another temperature record, reporting that July 2012 was the hottest month ever recorded in the Lower 48 states. The average temperature was 25 C, a figure that breaks a record set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
While the U.S. has had an impact on Canadian temperatures, Phillips noted that conditions back home aren’t expected to be nearly as dramatic.
“It may not be the warmest summer on record because this heat and this dryness is originating in the United States and it’s, of course, moving upwards,” he said.
Though Canadians enjoying a summer “staycation” may be basking in the warmer-than-normal temperatures, the volatile weather holds a different meaning for the country’s farmers.
Fickle temperatures at the beginning of the Canadian growing season have had a direct impact on crops, corn and hay specifically. Farmers in Ontario have peeled back corn husks to find dry, brittle kernels. Meanwhile, some Eastern Canadian hay fields are reportedly scorched.
Phillips noted that a lack of precipitation, in particular, has been affecting crops.
“It would be the billion dollar rain, if all farmers, all growers could see rain over the next two or three days,” said Phillips.
But luckier Canadian farmers -- in the Prairies and parts of southern Ontario -- could stand to capitalize on poor crops elsewhere, especially as commodity prices rise.
And while it may not come as a cool comfort, Phillips noted the unseasonably high temperatures are not just a one-off.
“Stick a thermometer in the planet: this is the 329th month in a row where temperatures have been warmer than normal across the globe,” he said.
“So Canada is no longer ‘the cold country,’ maybe we’re ‘the cool country’ now.”