St. Albert weathers wetter year

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St. Albert has been experiencing a warmer winter than usual, but a cold snap is just around the corner said an analyst from Environment Canada.

“It’s going to turn cold,” said David Phillips, senior weather analyst with Environment Canada.

So far this year 42.9 cm of snow has dropped in the Edmonton area, including St. Albert. Only 0.2 cm of snow has dropped in so far this month, almost setting a record for the driest December.

Phillips said, however, it’s unlikely St. Albert will actually break the record as the month isn’t finished yet.

Louise Stewart, manager of parks and open spaces operations with the City of St. Albert, said that as of Friday crews have only completed six plowing cycles this winter.

Last winter a total of 138.4 cm of snow fell in the Edmonton area. The winter previously had a snowfall of 53.3 cm. The average snowfall is 118 cm, which means last year was well above the average while 2015 was well below.

So far this winter the average temperature has been 3.2 C. Last year the average winter temperature was 4.1 C.

Phillips said there were 39 days of cold weather below -20 C last year. To date there have been six days of cold weather, all of which occurred in November.

The lowest temperature in 2017 was -32.5 C on Jan. 10. The previous year had a coldest temperature of -32.8 C on Dec. 17.

The warmest temperature St. Albert reached this year was 31.2 C on May 31. In 2016 the warmest day reached 29.8 C on May 7.

“What’s odd is that the warmest temperature was in May and not in the summer,” he said, adding that it’s hard to know why that occurred.

The total precipitation for this year, which includes both snow and rain, has been 484 mm. Last year was comparable with a total of 496 mm precipitation.

The average amount of precipitation is 446 mm, which means the last two years have been wetter than normal. Phillips said the wet years were caused by an increase in Pacific storms coming into the region.

On May 24 Edmonton broke a 1920 record for wettest day with a total of 44.7 mm of rain. Wind damage caused by the storm cost insurance companies $63 million from Edmonton to Red Deer.

Tree damage

Earlier in the year St. Albert weathered some significant wind events in May, June and July. Over the summer the city lost around 200 trees and more than 700 were damaged.

“Our trees are very acclimated to a west/north-west wind and can move and sway with little damage. When winds swirl or change direction it can cause different movements in the trees, sometimes resulting in tree failure,” Stewart said.

The city plans on replacing most of the trees that were lost. Stewart said some would be covered by insurance, while others will be covered by the city’s tree replacement program.

The replacements will be planted in the next one to two years, with costs ranging between $500 to $1,000 per tree.

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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.