Loud thunder and record-breaking heat make for 24 hours of unusual weather in Montreal

·2 min read
Loud thunder and record-breaking heat make for 24 hours of unusual weather in Montreal
Environment Canada radar shows precipitation over Montreal at about the time people awoke to a loud thunder clap.  (Screenshot of Environment Canada radar - image credit)
Environment Canada radar shows precipitation over Montreal at about the time people awoke to a loud thunder clap. (Screenshot of Environment Canada radar - image credit)

As about a dozen lightning bolts lit up the Montreal sky at around 3:20 a.m. — one of them sending a particularly loud bang across the island and beyond — so too did social media with groggy Montrealers wondering what the noise was all about in the dead of night.

Ask Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault and he'll tell you what happened, but he is unimpressed. For him, March 25, 2021's weather event was the record-breaking heat, not a boom in the night.

"It's really not a special feature for us, from a meteorological point of view," Legault said.

The loud bang? It was a regular old thunderstorm that made its way over Montreal and the South Shore, after passing through eastern Ontario and northern New York State.

Environment Canada radar shows precipitation over Montreal at about the time people awoke to a loud thunder clap.
Environment Canada radar shows precipitation over Montreal at about the time people awoke to a loud thunder clap. (Screenshot of Environment Canada radar)

Some Montrealers posting on social media about the rude awakening wondered about the decibels the thunder had reached. Google searches in the area revealed others thought it was an earthquake or an explosion.

But Legault, cozy north of Montreal where he did not hear a peep, had something else on his mind as he awoke at a normal time today.

"What's happening today, this record-breaking temperature of plus 22 degrees expected in Montreal, that's something to mention more than the strength of a storm that passed last night," he said.

The previous record temperature for March 25 was set in 1996: 17 C.

"But it's OK. Talking about weather, that's our national sport after hockey."

Legault did acknowledge the thunderstorm, too, is slightly out of season. We usually get those on hot summer afternoons. He suspects the contrast in cold and warm air masses in southern Quebec may have had played a role in the storm.

The storm itself was not strong, he said, but some of the bolts were more than others, though it's tough to pinpoint which one served as an early alarm for the people of Montreal.