‘I’m just shocked:’‘

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — P.E.I. residents who may have felt this October was warmer than usual weren’t wrong.

In fact, Charlottetown saw a record-high temperature of 19.6 C on Thursday, Oct. 27, the warmest recorded day in October since 1963. In Summerside, the temperature maxed out at 20.6 C, breaking the city’s previous October record of 20 C in 1898.

SaltWire Network’s weather specialist Allister Aalders said in an interview on Nov. 1 that temperatures have been well above average across Atlantic Canada.

“We know based on daily highs and lows that temperatures on P.E.I. were really three to five degrees above normal on average,” said Aalders. “That is certainly significant.”

The warm weather is due in large part to above-normal temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Several factors have played into why the water has been warmer, the most important being upper-level wind patterns the province was under for much of October.

“There was a blocking ridge of high pressure. Often, we see these blocking highs during the summertime which keep us dry,” Aalders said.

The blocking ridge was positioned in such a way that it hovered over Atlantic Canada, causing a large jet stream to pull in warm flows of wind from the south.

P.E.I. has been surrounded by this warm water throughout October, causing winds across the Northumberland Straight to increase in temperature by several degrees before making landfall.

This warm streak will likely continue into November and possibly even December, causing sea ice to form later in the winter. This is not good news for P.E.I.’s northern coastline, which remains largely damaged following post-tropical storm Fiona.

“Last year, the sea ice was late. Then we started having powerful winter storms that sent large crashing waves into the shoreline causing erosion when typically, the sea ice would have already formed to protect the shoreline,” said Aalders. “This leaves those already delicate shorelines particularly vulnerable.”

With current weather trends, it looks likely the North Atlantic region could experience another La Niña winter for the third year in a row.

Typically, with an La Niña pattern it is more difficult to predict how the season will play out, said Aalders.

“This being the third in a row is really quite a rare occurrence,” he said.

The reason for this is due in large part to climate change, which continues to impact the province worse every year. It is possible these warmer trends will become the new norm for the time of year, likely affecting the autumn months the most, he added.

“It’s really just the perfect ingredients of a strong storm development, and, certainly, the warm, unseasonable temperatures will be sticking around to start the month of November.”

UPEI climate lab director Adam Fenech told SaltWire Network in an interview on Nov. 1 that he is concerned with how quickly temperatures have been increasing across the province in recent years.

“When we get things warmer, even if it may seem like a small amount of temperature amount usually means a huge change in nature,” said Fenech. “I’m just shocked at how quickly these changes are happening. 30 years ago, I was talking about all of these sorts of things and now they are all manifesting.”

The warm temperatures do bring some silver linings, he added, such as longer farming and tourism seasons.

That said, they will also likely bring more plant diseases and pests, as well as a tremendous risk of forest fires.

“I’m really worried about forest fires eventually becoming a problem here. We’re kind of due for a big forest fire, especially with a lot of these trees down,” said Fenech. “We’re a bit scared that these things are happening because they are happening faster than we’d anticipated.”

Rafe Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian