Climate Comment for January 2020: A Mild Month To Start The Decade

Submitted by Bill Caulfeild-Browne

The warmest January recorded for Tobermory was in 1932, in the middle of the dust bowl years, when the mean temperature was just below freezing at -0.3 C. While we were not that warm this year, our mean temperature of -2.4C rates it well above the 20th century norm of -6.2C. 

There have been quite a few warm Januaries in the last twenty years, with the result that the norm for the 21st century now stands at -5.1C, more than a degree warmer than the last. (Februaries have been even warmer – more on that next month.)

The warmth was quite apparent. We had above freezing temperatures for 16 days, over half the month, with the high being +5.7C on the 10th. The lowest the mercury dipped to was -14.7C on the 17th – really not very cold by historical standards. However, there were several -20C readings recorded at locations away from the lakeshore.

The second week was dominated by southerly winds and mild weather until a cold front moved in on the 10th, bringing NE winds gusting to 77 kms/hr and the most snow of the month. The moisture content was 12 mm. which equates very roughly to 12 cm. of snow. But the month as a whole was relatively dry with just 57 mm. of precipitation compared to a long-term average of 72 mm. This was a distinct contrast to Toronto which had one of its rainiest Januaries ever.

We have very little accumulated snow. As fast as it falls, another mild spell arrives and reduces it. Not good news for snowmobilers – nor ice-fishermen, as the lake shows no signs of freezing other than in very sheltered spots.

Wiarton Willie has spoken today and forecasts an early Spring. His record of prognostications isn’t very good, but I like his optimism. Let’s hope he’s right!