Top News

CINDY DAY: The answer is blowing on the wind

Why was it such a windy winter? Cindy Day knows. - Sarah Curtis
Why was it such a windy winter? Cindy Day knows. - Sarah Curtis/123RF

I love to get weather questions from you: it tells me you’re paying attention.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.
Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

Earlier this month, Rose wrote in with a very good one: “very curious about the increase in our wind. Where we live, we never had winds like we did on Christmas Day and the damage being done. Is there any scientific reason?”

Rose, there is.

Wind is the movement of air across the Earth’s surface and is produced by differences in air pressure. Air pressure is created by the motion, size, and number of gas molecules present in the air; these vary based on the temperature and density of the air.

Extreme contrast in temperatures causes wind. All winter, we’ve been hearing about the extreme cold they have experienced in Ontario and Quebec. Their winter started in November with record cold weather for weeks on end. Meanwhile, Atlantic Canadians have been bragging about how easy a winter we have had, with milder than normal weather and, until recently, very little snow (except for northeastern New Brunswick, of course).

All winter, there was a very cold air mass parked to the west of us, while weather systems – some were storms with extra tropical characteristics - travelled up the coast with warm air. A south wind ahead of those coastal storms puts warm air in contact with the very cold air just to our west. The pressure difference between the strong, cold high and the deep low pressure in the warm coastal storms made for some very windy days. Since Christmas, we’ve been caught up in that cycle.

Are those windy days behind us? Not quite. Now that we’ve reached the end of March, the strength of the sun is also creating more wind. The spring sun heats the Earth's surface and, since warm air is lighter than cold air, the air rises. This process results in more "mixing" of the air, which tends to bring down the stronger winds from the upper atmosphere.

Once we get into May, the cold air masses moderate and the warm air begins to start winning the battle. Fingers crossed!

Today's weather fact

It’s finally getting a little warmer, but we’re far from setting record highs. The warmest March 27 on record for P.E.I. was 11.3 C in Summerside in 2000. In N.L., the record high was 11.7 C - set in Corner Brook in 2009. Nova Scotia beats them all with a high of 16.7 C in New Glasgow back in 1998. The normal highs for today are only 3 C on P.E.I. and in N.L., 4 C in N.S.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

Recent Stories