Wild weather, another La Niña, and a late winter outlook


For many in parts of southern Ontario, the summer dryness of ’22 caused stress and poor yields. Looking ahead, what’s in store for weather trends, water cycles, and average temperatures?

At last week’s Ontario Agricultural Conference, Bernard Tobin caught up with Michigan State University professor of meteorology and climatology, Jeff Andresen, to talk about what the data shows regarding wild weather, the dry-bias, ice cover on the Great Lakes, and more.

Certainly 2022 will go down as an extreme one for summer and then early winter weather, including the wicked winter storm that hit much of central and eastern Canada and the U.S. just ahead of the holiday season. Andresen says that dry bias ahead of that storm actually made it not as bad as it could have been.

For the year ahead, Andresen shares that the trend to warmer nights is a real one for central North America, though day time temps are rising more slowly, on average. An overall warmer climate does mean more water loss potential for the weather system as a whole, but that’s being kept in check by not-as-hot days.

Andresen adds that there is a real trend toward less ice cover on the Great Lakes, and for fewer days of the winter and that can impact the spring warm up. The spring warm is happening sooner than it used to, but less ice cover translates to more variability in the spring season, he says.

For annual crops, the longer growing season can be an advantage, but the earlier warm up can pose a real challenge for perennial or fall-seeded crops, as once those crops break dormancy, they are often more susceptible to adverse weather (i.e. a frost or freeze).

Andresen says that right now we are experiencing a third La Niña in a row (The triple dip!), and that could be good news for Ontario as statistically that points towards more snowfall for areas that may need it after last year’s dry season.


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