One thing that stands out for Wellington resident Gerry Reichheld as the winter of 2017-18 reaches its halfway point is the absence of a white landscape.
“There’s the odd drift and bank, but there’s an awful lot of open ground and mud,” the veteran CFB Summerside meteorologist and volunteer weather observer commented on what he’s seeing throughout Prince County.
Reichheld, who tracks precipitation for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) Network from his home at Goodwin’s Corner, said both snow and rain amounts so far this winter are way below normal.
Since the start of November, Reichheld has recorded 78 centimeters of snow, and most of that has already melted away.
He noted P.E.I. hasn’t had an old-fashioned winter storm yet this year.
“It’s a very abnormal year because every time we do get a little bit of snow it seems to be followed right afterwards by a bunch of rain and it takes it all away,” he said.
His measurements recorded just a half a centimeter of snow in November, followed by 28.5 cm in December, 43.5 cm in the month just ended and five and a half centimeters in the first four days of February.
By comparison, Environment Canada’s 30-year data (1981-2010) for Summerside suggests the normal monthly snowfall amounts are 19.1, 53.5, 78.5 and 53.4 centimeters for November to February respectively.
Reichheld’s gauges tell him November was wetter than normal, with 129 millimeters of rain compared to the November average of 77.2 mm. December’s 19.5 mm of rain was 30 mm below average but January received 31.3 mm of rain at Goodwin’s Corner according to Reichheld’s gauges, which is a little more than Summerside’s January average of 25.2 mm.
Reichheld has lived in P.E.I. since 1973 and he hasn’t seen a winter quite like this one. “I’ve seen some quiet winters, but I haven’t seen one quite like this, where we get the extremes,” he said.
He suggested snowmobilers, skiers and the farming community would appreciate more snow. Farmers, he said, are getting concerned about the water table. “The rain doesn’t do any good, it just washes off. What (farmers) need is some deep snow to melt in the spring,” he commented before adding, “We’ll take what we get, I guess.”
The bare fields across the county are also at odds with the 30-year data which suggests there’s normally five centimeters of snow accumulated by the end of November, 16 by the end of December and a build-up of 26 centimeters at the end of January.