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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Record-Breaking Snowfall

This article appeared in the Muskoka Weekender January 8, 2010

Record-Breaking Snowfall Amounts for December

Muskoka breaks 1985 record for the month

Bi-line: Karen Longwell

Muskoka: It was a record white Christmas for Muskoka.

The district last month broke a 1985 snowfall record for the month of December when it received double the amount of snow it typically gets, according to Environment Canada.

At the same time, areas in southern Ontario saw less snowfall than normal, according to the agency..

The previous record for most snow in Muskoka was 194.6 centimetres, set in 1985. December 2009 saw 199.4 centimetres for the region, well above the typical 87.6 centimetres for the month. A two-day storm, Dec. 10 and 11 dumped upwards of 95 centimetres in some parts of the district, including Bracebridge.

Snow measurements are taken at Muskoka Airport. Records have been gathered in Muskoka since 1934, said Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist Peter Kimbell.

November's unseasonably warm temperatures resulted in warmer water on the Great Lakes in December, according to Environment Canada. These warmer than normal lake temperatures combined with very cold arctic air flooding down late on Dec. 9 provided the ideal setup for significant lake effect snow. For much of Dec. 10-11, a series of snow squalls developed in the flow from the northwest off Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, according to Environment Canada.

"December is typically the month when most lake effect snow occurs for the simple reason that the cold air is arriving from the north and it flows over the relatively warm water," said Kimbell.

One particularly intense and persistent snow squall moved inland south of Parry Sound through the Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Minden areas, resulting in record-setting snowfalls in some of these communities.

"Unfortunately, this year there was a very strong band that basically clobbered that particular area (Muskoka and Minden)," said Kimbell.

At its most intense, this snow squall penetrated hundreds of kilometres inland, bringing snow to areas south of Ottawa, according to the release.

Bracebridge and Gravenhurst areas were hit particularly hard with the long-lasting,strong snow squall,said Kimbell.

Future forecast:

Muskokans can still expect more winter for the coming months.

The seasonal forecast for January and February suggests below normal temperatures and precipitation for this area, said Kimbell.

"That is really just a best guess," he added.

For the immediate future Muskoka can expect not much in the way of snow, said Kimbell. Right now, the winds are from the north, which means no lake effect snow in the next few days, he predicted

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