The Weather with Connor

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Connor Mockett

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another week of The Weather with Connor. This week, I just wanted to talk about one thing. That big destructive ice storm back in the first week of April that wreaked havoc across the region. I’d like to talk about that ice storm on April 5 and the days leading up to it, knowing it was coming as a forecaster.

For at least five days ahead of that storm, most (if not all) weather models had that ice storm happening. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, mostly because it’s not uncommon whatsoever for models to show a big ice event multiple days in advance, only for it to not happen at all. Besides that, though, everyone involved in the weather knew a storm was coming that week, even if it was just going to be regular rain.

April 3 then comes around. That’s a Monday, and two days from the ice storm arriving. At this point, models are still locked and loaded, showing a major ice storm impacting the region before a switch to rain. For models to be showing the same outputs and timing for ice, I started to sound the alarm in my brain that this is probably going to happen. It was at this time I started making Facebook posts well in advance of the storm, so people could prepare themselves for later in the week.

Tuesday, April 4, was the day before the ice storm would come in. This was the day I posted my big forecast for the event, stating that a damaging ice storm is on the way. I knew this wouldn’t be a fun storm for a lot of people, and that tree damage and power outages were all but guaranteed. Fun fact, that forecast eventually was seen by just shy of 45,000 people.

And so here we go with April 5, which will now be forever known in my head as The Ice Storm of 2023. Everything happened right on schedule. An early morning arrival into the Ottawa Valley, and then a mid morning arrival for the rest of the Eastern Ontario region. 

This storm was absolutely spectacular, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. For basically the entire ice portion of the storm, which was the morning and a little bit of the early afternoon, it was a continuous thunderstorm. Thunder-ice, actually. I have never heard a thunderstorm during a major freezing rain event like that. I was totally astounded.

Of course, during a thunderstorm, precipitation is coming down at an extremely heavy rate. Usually it’d be rain, but in this cause it was the ice, which made the ice accumulate on trees incredibly fast. That’s another thing I’ve never seen in my life, how fast that ice accretion happened. In only three hours, from 8:30am-11:30am, there was already about 15mm of ice on tree branches. 15mm in itself would be a bad ice storm, but this only happened in three hours, with multiple hours left in the storm.

Around the Winchester area, freezing rain lasted until 3:00 or 3:30pm that afternoon. It poured for the entire time, and the ice ended up accumulating 10mm more onto the tree branches, for a grand total of 25mm of ice at my home in Winchester.

From about 1:30pm onward into the evening, all you could hear outside around town was trees snapping. There were full trees, big tree branches, really just any branches on trees coming down from the heavy weight of the ice. My backyard of trees looked like it had been hit by a tornado. Also, Winchester was very lucky not to lose power during this whole situation, which many of us were thankful for because of sump pump reasons.

Make no mistake, this was absolutely the worst ice storm in Eastern Ontario since the Ice Storm of 1998. I’m not comparing the two, 1998 was obviously worse with 100mm of freezing rain in a lot of the region, I’m just saying this was the worst ice storm since. It’s definitely the worst one of my life, being that I wasn’t even born yet in 1998..

An incredible late season event. And what happened the week after? It was summer outside. 30 degrees on Thursday, April 13. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Spring can be wild sometimes!

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