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Friday, March 19, 2010

Canada basks in record high temperatures

Canada basks in record high temperatures

Joggers make their way through Major's Hill Park in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, when temperatures hit a high of 16 C. Joggers make their way through Major's Hill Park in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, when temperatures hit a high of 16 °C. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

CBC News, March 17, 2010

Many Canadians enjoyed the warmest St. Patrick's Day ever Wednesday, with many places in the country logging record high temperatures with spring still officially a few days away.

In Halifax, Fredericton and Montreal the temperature reached 14 °C (57.2 °F), while Ottawa basked in 16 °C (60.8 °F), and folks in Rosetown, Sask., enjoyed 15 °C (59 °F) weather. Island Lake, Man., only needed to reach 7 °C (44.6 °F) to set an all-time high.

Toronto enjoyed a balmy 18 °C (64.4 °F), but it wasn't enough to beat the 1945 record high of 19.4 °C (66.9 °F).

The warmest March on record in many places so far, following an unusually warm winter, is all thanks to the climate pattern called El Nino, according to David Phillips of Environment Canada.

"Since the first of March, many areas in Canada are showing melting temperatures rather than freezing. This is not even maple syrup weather, which is plus-four, minus-four," he said. "We're seeing double digit temperatures … record temperatures across the country."

But those temperatures are creating havoc in some parts of the country.

In northern Manitoba, truck drivers are rushing to deliver food and supplies to remote communities cut off by the melting snow.

"We'd have guys that would literally go there, drop off, and come back and catch four hours of sleep and go right back out again," said Mark Kohaykewych.

In Sudbury, wildlife biologist Joseph Hamr would normally be out in the woods this time of year placing collars on bears about to come out of hibernation, so they can be tracked through the year. This year, the bears are already out of their dens, weeks early.

"It's quite unusual. Normally bears would come out of their dens … anytime from the beginning to mid-April. It would be the large males that would come out first and the females with their cubs would come out later," said Hamr.

The warm, dry weather has already contributed to several grass fires, including one just north of Halifax that destroyed a trailer home.

The record warm trend will likely continue through the spring and summer, according to Phillips.

"We may see wildfires burning across the country, not just in British Columbia. And of course, water levels, irrigation, sport fishing, power production, [will] all [be] affected because we had this unusually warm and dry winter."

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