Q104, KenoraOnline and DrydenNow are looking back at the biggest news stories of the year. Today’s story is an interview with Environment Canada Meteorologist Peter Kimbell.

Q: How was northwestern Ontario’s weather in 2021?

“Looking back at 2021, the main theme of the year was warm and dry. Looking back to January 2021, there was really only one month of the last eleven that was colder than average – and that was February. Every other month has been warmer than average or near average.”

“So far this month, we’re definitely experiencing some colder, typical weather lately. But the warm weather probably isn’t gone. We will have some more warm weather this month.”

Q: It’s also been quite a dry year for northwestern Ontario. What was the area’s precipitation like?

“This year has definitely been dry. Looking at the year, pretty much every month was below normal with the exception of August and October. October was actually the wettest month of the year, because of October 10 when we received 53 mm of rain.”

“But most of the year was dry, especially in the summertime when the most rain was received. Logically, Kenora gets the most precipitation in the summer with thunderstorms. That didn’t happen this year, except for August.”

“May was 48 per cent below normal, June was 42 per cent and July was 66 per cent below normal precipitation. That’s why we saw the forest fire activity in northwestern Ontario and over the prairies this year.”

Q: With the year being so warm and dry, are those the effects of climate change? Or is it a one-off year?

“There’s really no way of answering that question except in hindsight. 20 years from now, we can probably answer that question better. But this year was a one-off when compared to looking at previous years.”

“2018 was about average in terms of temperature. 2019 was a bit cooler than average. 2020 was about average as well. 2021 was a one-off, warmer than usual year, except for February.”

“So, maybe it is, but we really won’t know for sure until we can look back 20 or 30 years from now. It’s entirely possible that January and February turn very, very cold in 2022. That’s not impossible at all. In terms of the dryness, last year was also drier than normal, but 2019 was also wetter than normal. Each year is unique.”

Q: You mentioned the cold in January and February. Is it too early to tell what the early parts of the new year will look like?

“Looking at the climate in northwestern Ontario, the least precipitation occurs over the winter. The heaviest precipitation months are always the summer months.”

“The average snowfall in December is about 30 centimetres, about 28 centimetres in January and about 18 in February. So, not a lot of snow falls in the northwest. That pattern will probably repeat.”

“For temperature, we’re actually forecasting a bit on the warmer than average side. But, beyond a week or two weeks, the accuracy does go down. So, I’m not guaranteeing what we’ll see in the new year.”