Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lower Temperatures to Blame for Snow-Packed Maritime Winter: Experts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lower Temperatures to Blame for Snow-Packed Maritime Winter: Experts

Article excerpt

Unusual cold to blame for East's snow woes

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HALIFAX - Another winter storm buried Nova Scotia on Wednesday as snowbanks across Atlantic Canada continue to grow, probably leaving some on the East Coast asking why us?

The meteorological explanation is pretty simple. In the Maritimes, it all comes down to below average temperatures, which means less rain than parts of the region normally get in winter, says Environment Canada meteorologist Tracey Talbot.

"Even though we tend to get these winter storms in through the Maritime region on a regular basis ... most years get some rain associated with them," she said in an interview.

Talbot says temperatures in February were generally three to six degrees Celsius lower than usual.

"Here in Nova Scotia we're not breaking records in terms of the overall snowfall, it's just that it seems to have a bigger impact because we're not getting any melting of that snow."

Total snowfall at Halifax Stanfield International Airport this winter is around 270 centimetres, just under last year's total of 288 centimetres. But those figures are nowhere near the record of 475 centimetres set in 1971.

And while some Maritimers have seen record amounts of snow -- Saint John, N.B., just broke a 52-year-old record for seasonal accumulation -- other parts of the region are missing out on the usual cycle of warm and cold weather through the winter, said Talbot.

Environment Canada has said that strange weather across North America this winter can be attributed in part to the position of the jet stream, a river of fast-moving, high-altitude air that moves west to east across the continent.

Normally, the jet stream divides cold northern air from warm southern air. Storms are caused when air masses of different temperatures along the jet stream collide.

In January, David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, said the jet stream has been careening up and down the continent "like a drunken sailor" weaving from the Gulf of Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico. …

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