Crews assess and clean up the damage left near the EC Row Expressway and Central Avenue in Windsor on August 25, 2016 after a tornado hit the area. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Is 2016 An Omen For Climate Change?

According to Senior Climatologist at Environment Canada David Phillips, 2016 may go down as one of the warmest years yet in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.

Phillips says the weather was unusually warm overall, usually wet except for when it wasn’t and just downright wacky.

“Every month last year was warmer than normal,” he says. “Although in April [it was] much cooler than normal and we saw snow in May.”

2016 is also the year we broke a record for the most rainfall in March, 124mm (4.88 inches), breaking a record set in 1973.

“What was surprising was the number of days of rain was not numerous, but when it chose to rain we got a big heavy gush of rain,” says Phillips.

Crews assess and clean up the damage left near the EC Row Expressway and Central Avenue in Windsor on August 25, 2016 after a tornado hit the area. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Damage left near the EC Row Expressway and Central Avenue in Windsor on August 25, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Farmers were praising the summer weather, but the end of the season brought two of the strongest tornadoes in Ontario this year.

On the evening of August 24, an EF-1 tornado formed over the Detroit River with wind speeds between 135 km/h and 175 km/h (84 mph and 109 mph). Two homes suffered severe damage.

Just minutes later, a second tornado touched down near Central Ave. and the EC Row Exwy. in Windsor, laying waste to several businesses and homes. That one measured EF-2 on the enhanced Fujita scale with wind speeds between 200 km/h and 220 km/h (124.7 mph and 136.7 mph).

Heavy rain in Windsor-Essex caused flooding across many roadways in the region, also affecting homes and businesses on September 29, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Heavy rain September 29, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

If that wasn’t enough to tire even the most ardent of weather watchers, Windsor, Tecumseh and parts of Lakeshore were hit a mere month later by severe flooding when 200 mm (7.87 inches) of rain fell causing $108-million in damage.

Climatologists tend to measure changes in climate over years, not months but Phillips admits this past year appears to be a harbinger for what is ahead.

“I think that in many ways when we look at our models — in 50 years from now and what we see are perhaps warmer temperatures,” says Phillips. “When it chooses to rain we’ll get gushes of rain. [We’ll get} good agricultural weather, [and] more severe weather.”