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'I think it's great': Warmer than normal weather in Windsor-Essex breaks 41-year-old record

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A 41-year-old temperature record was broken in Windsor-Essex on Monday as most of southern and central Ontario experienced warmer than normal late winter weather.

The paddling season started three weeks earlier than usual in River Canard where spring like weather prompted staff at the River Canard Canoe Co. and Outpost to take reservations early.

“I think it's great,” said owner Ron LaPointe. “It's good to have winter but it's also good to have this weather as well.”

LaPointe said they still screen people for experience because the waters remain frigid at this time of year.

“To make sure that they're knowledgeable and have some experience and if we feel comfortable with them, and the conditions are right, we’ll let them go out,” he said.

Temperatures surpassed 22 C in Windsor on Monday, smashing the previous record high temperature of 19.1 C set in 1983.

“Summer in March and not just in Windsor,” said warning preparedness meteorologist Geoff Couslon.

He added, “And this on the heels of record breaking temperatures back on Feb. 27 in the Windsor area, and we also had record breaking temperatures back on Feb. 8 and 9, so this has certainly been no surprise to everyone who's lived through it and knows it, just how mild this winter has been and consistently mild.”

Environment and Climate Change Canada credits the mild weather to this year’s El Niño phenomenon combined with climate change.

“The warmer than normal water in the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of South America has impacts on weather worldwide,” Coulson said. “One of the big impacts it tends to have is giving us a milder winter in Ontario and that certainly has been the case.”

He continued, “Another overarching factor is just climate change in general. Our winters tending to be a bit shorter, a little bit less in the way of snowfall or at least the snow is starting later and ending sooner. All of these factors combined together and then every once in a while we’ll get a day-to-day weather situation such as we have now where strong winds, a good flow from the south bringing this air mass in from the Gulf of Mexico and this is giving us again not just record breaking temperatures in the southwest, but in the Toronto area, the Ottawa area, Sudbury, various parts of the province looking at record breaking temperatures today.”

Coulson said that aside from a few bursts of Arctic air over the last three months, the overall trend this winter has been milder than normal.

“When I looked at the records for today, almost any major community that we've got a long standing period of records for, their record is at risk today,” Coulson explained.

He told CTV News Windsor it’s too soon to say if this will be the warmest March on record, and suggested not to put away the winter jackets just yet.

“The overall trend for March is to be milder than normal and certainly today and tomorrow are going to be much, much warmer than normal. We do drop down a bit to finish off the work week, still warmer than normal but closer to seasonal values,” he said.

Coulson said winter isn’t over just yet, and it appears as though it will only make ‘”fleeting” appearances over the coming weeks.

It looks like the overarching trend is going to continue to be the milder than normal weather,” Coulson said. “I think this is a testament at what we could be looking at in decades to come on a more frequent basis.” 

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