This past week demonstrated the true erraticism of Canadian weather, with extreme conditions plaguing the country upon the arrival of fall. Ontario and Quebec in the east were scorched with record-breaking heat, and Alberta in the west was bombarded with early snowfall. To an outsider, such circumstances may seem rather peculiar; but for Canadians, this is nothing new.
Jonathan Belles, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, told Maclean's that the flip-flop in weather currently being experienced across the country is simply a circumstance of normal weather patterns. "It has snowed in Alberta in August before," he said. "But as far as I could find, it has never snowed in Toronto in September."
Snow. Edmonton. Seriously. pic.twitter.com/tE5gDoxSdy— Joanne Lemieux (@profLemieux) September 19, 2017
He explained that the snowy conditions in Alberta were a result of cold air moving in from Alaska and northwest Canada. Without any significant bodies of water in the west to neutralize the cold air, it lingers over the prairies and sometimes brings forth instances of snow.
Conversely, Ontario and Quebec are sheltered by the Great Lakes. By the time the cold air arrives at eastern Canada, it has already been warmed up to conditions not suitable for the formation of snow.
"Presently, the Jetstream is down in western Canada, and up in eastern Canada," says Maclean's. This occurrence results in the two regions experiencing opposite weather conditions. It just so happens that the pattern is more pronounced than usual this year, which has led to more extreme weather conditions in both areas.
Belles predicts that temperatures will return to more seasonal levels as this week continues. Days will also start to get shorter, and more prominent colour changes in the leaves will be seen. While Ontario and Quebec are still under heat warning, Alberta seems to show no snow anytime soon in its forecasts... But knowing Canadian weather, that could all change in an instant.