December was colder than normal — the coldest it's been in the past 13 years — especially in North Shore and Saguenay areas. After an early-January cold spell that brought wind chills of -40 to -55 C, temperatures have reached closer to the norm, even slightly above normal in the east. In fact, a mid-month thaw brought temperatures above 0 C and rainfall.
Total December precipitation was below normal everywhere, except south of the St. Lawrence River where it's been normal to slightly higher than the norm. The Lower St. Lawrence experienced the snowiest December in the past eight years. Just before Christmas, nearly 54, 000 customers were without power — some for up to a week — as southern Quebec was pelted with 10-25 mm of freezing rain and 15-30 cm of snow and ice pellets. January has brought some relief in the form of below-normal precipitation throughout the province.
Snowpack remains normal or below the average, especially in the Ottawa River Valley region where it is 50 per cent less than usual. The average St. Lawrence water level remains close to the norm.
In the Eastern Boreal Forest, interior habitats are buried under snow and ice. Meanwhile, coastal habitats in the Gulf of St. Lawrence remain relatively free of ice, and are hosting wintering sea ducks as usual.
The cold temperatures of early January contributed to a good frost seal on the St. Lawrence channel, particularly on St. Peter Lake. The outlook for spring conditions looks good throughout the province.