Editor’s Note: I asked former Wellander Rob Paola, a nationally-known meteorologist, for a Christmas week forecast for his hometown, which he was more than glad to do. But first, here’s some background about this Welland boy who cherishes his roots in the community.
By Rob Paola
I’m a meteorologist with Environment Canada for over 30 years now. I’m currently working at the Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Center in Winnipeg Manitoba as a supervisor and severe weather meteorologist. I came to Winnipeg in 1998, after working 10 years at the Ontario forecast center in Toronto. Even though I’ve been in Winnipeg for almost 20 years now, I still keep tabs on the weather in Niagara for personal interest, as well as keeping my Mom updated on any significant weather she may expect still living in Welland.
I was born in Welland in 1962, first born child of my Italian immigrant parents. My dad came to Welland from his native Italy in 1952 and worked at odd jobs including at the Wabasso cotton mill. My mom came to Welland in 1962 after marrying my dad in Italy the year before. Like many families back then, my dad was the main bread winner, working as a labourer at Inco and Atlas Steels while my mom stayed home and took care of raising 4 boys (which included providing her wonderful home cooking which I still enjoy to this day!)
I grew up on the west side of Welland in the Chippawa Park area, going to J.C. Bald, Fitch and Centennial high school in the late 60s through the 70s. Life in Welland was good, and I enjoyed countless hours riding my bike, playing ball hockey or baseball with my brothers and childhood friends from the neighbourhood.
I graduated from Centennial in 1981 (back when we still had Grade 13) and left Welland that fall to pursue my university education, first at the University of Toronto for 2 years, then McGill University in Montreal where I graduated in 1985 with a bachelor of Science degree specializing in meteorology. That same year, I was hired by Environment Canada as a meteorologist with the federal weather service.
I became interested in meteorology as a teenager in Welland, the catalyst being the great Blizzard of ’77 that paralyzed southern Niagara and western New York back in January 1977. That blizzard was something our region had never experienced before (to that extreme) and it impressed upon me how powerful a force Mother Nature could be, and how mankind was no match for Mother Nature at her worst. That storm, more than any other, triggered my lifelong interest in weather, especially with trying to forecast and experience its extremes.
I currently live in Winnipeg with my wife and 2 daughters.
A forecast for Welland, By Rob Paola
It’s been an exceptionally mild start to winter in southern Ontario which has felt more like a prolonged fall than anything resembling winter. In fact, through Dec 18th, December 2015 has been averaging a November-like +5C in Welland, easily on pace to be the warmest December in Welland since weather records began in 1872. (Record warmest December in Welland is Dec 1982 at +2.5C – normal December average is -1.1C).
So that touch of cold weather in Welland Friday and Saturday likely brought a glimmer of hope to those wishing that the winter of 2015-16 was finally starting in Niagara. Unfortunately, that cold weather will be short lived as yet another surge of unseasonably mild air pushes into Niagara this upcoming week. Temperatures will be rising into the double digits again this upcoming week along with occasional bouts of rainy weather, most likely Monday, as well as Wednesday into Thursday. At this point, Christmas Day is looking dry and mild, with highs near +7C under mainly sunny skies. That will mean good travel conditions over the holidays with no major winter storms to disrupt travel plans. But if you’re dreaming of a white Christmas in Niagara, it looks like you’ll have to wait another year… or drive up to the Muskokas! Whatever the weather, have a safe and happy holiday!
Christmas week weather outlook for Welland:
Mon 21: High +9C. Breezy and mild with rain developing by midday.
Tue 22: High +10C: Mild and dry
Wed 23: High: +13C: Breezy and mild with a few showers developing
Thu 24: High: +15C: Windy with showers ending
Fri 25: High: +7C: Sunny, breezy, dry. Ideal travel weather
Historic Christmas Day weather in Welland (records since 1872*) :
Normal high: 0.9C
Normal low: –6.7C
High of +5.8C
Low of +3.3C
Last white Christmas in Welland: 2013 (about 6 cm of snow on ground)
Warmest: High of 16.7C in 1895. More recently, 1982 saw a very warm Christmas day with a high of 15.5C
Coldest: Low of -26C in 1980
Whitest (snowiest): 25 cm on Dec 25th in 2001. Up to the 24th, it was on pace to be a green Christmas and one of the warmest and least snowy Decembers on record in Niagara, but a spell of cold weather starting on the 24th produced 5 straight days of heavy snowsqualls off Lake Erie dumping incredible amounts of snow across southern Niagara and western NY. Welland saw 84 cm from the 24th-28th, while Pt Colborne had 89 cm and Ft Erie a whopping 128 cm! (Buffalo set a record for snowiest month ever with a staggering 82” (209 cm) of snow over those 5 days) Truly a dream come true for those wishing for a white Christmas that year!
Wettest (rainiest): 19.6 mm of rain in 2009. Honorable mention: 1979 with 42.6 mm of rain Dec 24-25 (over a 2 day period, 24.4mm on the 24th and 18.2 mm on the 25th. The 2009 figure was just for the 25th)
For more insight into the history of weather observations in Welland, see http://members.shaw.ca/wellandwx/history/wellandwx.htm
Editor’s note: Watch for a mid-week update from Rob here on the blog!