Tuesday's daunting radar over the GTA is deceiving

Digital Writers
·2 min read
Tuesday's daunting radar over the GTA is deceiving
Tuesday's daunting radar over the GTA is deceiving

For the casual observer, looking at the radar image across the Greater Toronto Area early Tuesday morning was quite ominous -- indicating heavy snowfall across the area.

But in fact, that precipitation detected by the radar was not actually reaching the ground. That's what is called "Virga."


"By definition, virga is precipitation not reaching the ground as it evaporates or sublimes (change from solid to vapour) before it does," explains Weather Network meteorologist Nadine Hinds-Powell. "The radar beam shoots out at an angle above ground level through the clouds where condensation and precipitation occurs with saturated air, but at the surface the air is dry and so as the precipitation falls, it evaporates as it hits the dry air later at the surface.

You can often see virga as "fall streaks" at the base of clouds, or a rainbow which we see in front of raindrops evaporating before they reach the ground.


In reality, the extended stretch of unusually quiet and essentially weatherless pattern continues across southern Ontario this week. Part of a broader pattern that's actually impacting several parts of the country.

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The one system to watch this week was another major statside storm -- Texas Low -- that will now track well south of the border Thursday and Thursday night. The northern edge of this system should bring some rain to southwestern Ontario and possibly the Niagara region on Thursday, but overall avoiding any major impacts. At this point it looks like the GTA will stay dry, but if the track shifts just a bit further north, then there will be some rain possible.

Sunshine then returns for Friday, with an extended period of dry weather and a warming trend lasting through the weekend and into early next week.

"It'll be a gorgeous weekend across the region with double digits for most of southern Ontario on Saturday and into the low to mid teens on Sunday," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham, adding that next week will be even warmer. "We could finally see some rain during the middle of next week, but very mild ahead of that system."