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Summer In Canada Could Be Rainier, Cooler Than Recent Years

Like cities around the world, Toronto will likely experience a “heat island” effect this summer. (Hailey Toft/Flickr)

Summer is on the horizon for the Northern Hemisphere, and Canadians eager for a preview can check out AccuWeather‘s has forecast for the country’s warm season.

This seasonal outlook is spearheaded by Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist, a veteran forecaster with more than three decades of experience charting how weather patterns impact Canada.

A moderate La Niña phase is expected to persist into the summer, according to Anderson. Examining past summers influenced by similar climatological conditions allows forecasters to piece together the atmospheric jigsaw puzzle of how the weather may unfold across Canada this season.

Many hope there isn’t a repeat of last summer.

The summer of 2021 was brutal at times, especially in southwestern Canada. June 2021 saw the country break its all-time record high temperature on three consecutive days. The mercury soared to an extraordinary 121 F (49.4 C) on June 29 in Lytton, located in southern British Columbia — a village that was engulfed by a devastating wildfire just about a week later. An average high temperature for that time of year in Lytton is the upper 70s.

Will summer 2022 bring more of the same?

AccuWeather meteorologists break down the upcoming summer season with a region-by-region forecast ahead of the arrival of meteorological summer on June 1, and the summer solstice, the first official day of summer, on June 21.

(During a period of La Niña influence, western Canada typically experiences the most significant impacts, according to Anderson. La Niña is one of many teleconnections meteorologists study to determine weather outlooks on a seasonal scale. Teleconnections are persistent, large-scale pattern of pressure and circulation anomalies that spans vast geographical areas, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

La Niña conditions tend to influence the position of the jet stream over North America. In this case, it will funnel more moisture over much of British Columbia.

“It’ll be wetter than normal across the northern part of the province with near-normal rainfall expected in the southern portion,” Anderson said. “Given current conditions and the teleconnections, we may see a reduction in fire activity this year, especially when compared to last summer,” Anderson said.

Without an abundance of dry fuels, like dry grass or dead plants, the chances of wildfires developing are reduced.

In addition to at least average or above-average levels of rain falling from the sky for much of western Canada, the water flowing at ground level is also set to be in a good position this summer.

This scene, taken in May 2022 near Kamloops, British Columbia, shows damage from wildfires that have plagued western Canada. (Mark Betuzzi/Flickr)

A deep snowpack, a layer of snow found in mountainous areas, is key during the coldest months of the year. Melting or runoff from this snowpack works its way into area rivers and streams. It keeps water flowing to many locations throughout the province during the summer.

In terms of temperatures this summer, AccuWeather forecasters say anyone in western Canada dreading a repeat of last year’s brutal heat may breathe a bit easier.

Anderson expects air temperatures will be near normal for much of British Columbia, as water conditions in the Canadian Pacific are expected to be cooler than normal. Cooler waters just offshore will likely exert a notable influence on the air that flows inland over the province.

The hottest portion of the summer in Vancouver, British Columbia’s most populous city, occurs in mid-to-late July when high temperatures in the low 70s F (21-22 C) are common. The summer of 2021 saw the city temps climb well above normal and end the season at 4.8 F (2.7 C) above the average for the time period.

In terms of precipitation, over the course of a typical summer, Vancouver averages about 4 inches (100 mm) of rain from June through August. This works out to about 1.25 to 1.50 inches (32 to 38 mm) of rainfall each month during meteorological summer.

While portions of western Canada are expected to encounter near-normal temperatures and near-to-above-average rainfall, that will not be the case for other parts of the sprawling country.

“Ongoing and worsening severe drought across southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan will likely feed the heat through the summer,” Anderson said.

The drought conditions in place as of mid-May across the Canadian Prairies are not a good sign as summer approaches.

Almost all the southern portions of both Alberta and Saskatchewan are experiencing abnormal dryness, according to the Canadian Drought Monitor. A large percentage of far southern Alberta was in the midst of an extreme drought, the second-highest drought classification, as of late May.

Drought conditions in southern Canada as of April 30, 2022. Darker orange areas indicate severe drought while red areas indicate extreme drought. (Canadian Drought Monitor)

Dry ground is able to more easily radiate heat from the sun back into the lower levels of the atmosphere. This process raises the air temperature to a level several degrees higher than if the soil was moist.

“I expect a hotter summer compared to normal in cities such as Calgary and Regina,” Anderson said, citing the ongoing drought as a key reason temperatures will soar above normal.

The continued dryness and increasing heat will also spell another danger for parts of the Prairies: wildfires. “These dry and warm conditions will likely lead to a higher risk for large, rapidly spreading fires across the southern Prairies,” Anderson said.

The exceptions to this elevated heat and wildfire risk, at least in the early summer, are likely to be portions of southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba.

“The soil in these areas is still quite moist, with river flooding ongoing, given recent rounds of heavy storms,” Anderson said.

When soil is too moist, it can present a problem for farmers attempting to plant crops, Anderson said, but the increased moisture may be able to temper the potential for above-average heat through the early summer in the eastern Prairies. However, Anderson doubts this buffer for the eastern Prairies will last the entire summer.

“Conditions may flip to drier and hotter during the second half of summer as the soil dries out,” Anderson said.

AccuWeather forecasters say wet and stormy weather will be common across eastern Canada this summer.

Anderson has isolated a swath in eastern Canada extending from central and southern Ontario through western and southern Quebec as an area that will encounter above-normal precipitation and thunderstorm activity this summer.

“This may be a busy summer in terms of severe thunderstorms, especially from the Windsor to Toronto to Ottawa corridor,” he said.

While wet and stormy conditions may put a damper on some summer plans, the good news is that increased amounts of precipitation generally lead to lower overall drought risk.

With this influx of extra moisture, Anderson believes the upcoming summer will be more humid than usual. Humidity is the term meteorologists use to describe the amount of water vapor in the air at a given time.

“Increased humidity will lead to warmer nights when compared to normal, while temperatures during the daytime will be closer to normal,” Anderson said.

With more water vapor available in the atmosphere, the air closer to the surface is unable to cool as quickly as if the air were drier. During the times when summer heat enters the region, it may be difficult for some areas to shed the heat overnight following a hot day.

In major cities, the urban heat island effect can worsen conditions. Big cities often trap more heat, given the sheer amount of paved or built-up surfaces. These building materials are very slow to release the heat and cool down.

In terms of wildfire risk for the eastern portion of the country, there has been some early fire activity across northern Ontario and western Quebec this spring. However, the overall forecast trend of rainfall this summer should help prevent fuels from becoming tinder dry. In addition, humidity can also be an inhibiting factor in the growth of wildfires.

Humid conditions are also in store for Atlantic Canada, according to Anderson. Not only will humidity build, but given forecast trends in water temperatures around the region, this summer is likely to be warmer than normal.

“I expect water temperatures to average about 1.8-3.6 degrees F (1-2 degrees C) above normal in the Atlantic, off the coast of Nova Scotia,” Anderson said. “This will have a warming and higher humidity influence on the surrounding area, especially at night.” Therefore, it’s likely that AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will often exceed the reading on the thermometer in this part of the nation over the summer.

Rainfall amounts for the area this summer are expected to generally be near normal for much of Atlantic Canada, but Newfoundland could be the exception. Newfoundland may end up recording below-average precipitation.

As the summer progresses, all eyes will likely shift to tropical activity. For residents of Atlantic Canada, Anderson sees some worrying trends.

“Based on La Niña and the projected higher-than-average Atlantic water temperatures, there can be a higher-than-normal risk for a land-falling tropical system in Atlantic Canada,” Anderson said. AccuWeather forecasters are calling for another highly active hurricane season in the Atlantic basin in 2022.

The timing for this increased risk would be late summer and into the early fall.

Produced in association with AccuWeather.