Northern Hemisphere has a cool summer so far in 2004

So far, the weather this summer in Ontario has been on the cool and wet side. All of June and July were either rainy or cooler than the seasonal average.

Normally, summer in Ontario is mostly hot and humid, with a mix of dry spells, as well as rainy periods. Even Environment Canada has a special page on summer weather.

This summer, we often have rainy days, with heavy down pour, and strong afternoon thunderstorms with loud thunder, and lightening.

At least we are spared the very hot, hazy, smoggy days of summer with above 30 celsius. So far, there was only one day with smog this summer. And also, anything is better than the snow!

Even the plants got confused. My neighbors have a Magnolia tree which blooms in May, before its foliage comes out. It did that this year, but then bloomed again in early August, with the leaves on the tree!

What is more weird is that the other neighbors have some lilac trees. In the last week of September, the leaves were already turning yellow and brown, but the poor tree was confused and bloomed again! Not only that, but small green buds turned out into leaves! I took pictures of that since it is very odd.

Here are some pictures:

Roses were blooming in October. This picture was taken in Oct 10, 2004.
Lilacs normally bloom in May in Southern Ontario. This year, they bloomed a second time in late September. Note the fall color leaves next to it! This picture and the one following it were taken on Sept 29, 2004.
Lilacs blooming with more buds for fresh green leaves too.
Magnolias normally bloom in early May. This year they were fooled by the weather, and bloomed once more in early August 2004.

At least we are not alone in this. Europe has had the same weather this summer.

Reasons

Most sources agree that it is the jet stream that is causing this wacky phenomonon this year, as reported in:

And it is interesting to know that in Japan, summer has been exceedingly hot, and the jet stream has something to do with it.

Below is an Associated Press article on the how it is very similar in Europe, as reported in CNN.


Where's summer in Europe?

Friday, July 16, 2004 Posted: 0259 GMT (1059 HKT)

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Snowball fights in July. Mulled wine instead of wine coolers. Thermostats set on high. Spring has come and gone, fall approaches -- and Europeans from Oslo to Budapest are still waiting for the summer.

Much of Europe woke up to yet another day of chilly temperatures and rain on Thursday, adding to the weeks of miserable weather gripping Europe from Scandinavia down to parts of the Balkans.

And this, in a continent that had feared a recurrence of last summer's heat wave, which killed thousands.

This year's May was fitful, and June promised a summer that could go either way. But except for southern Europe, July has been wet and glacial.

On many days, temperatures have been half that of last year, when the mercury sat at 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) or higher for weeks, resulting in overcrowded swimming pools, record ice cream sales, and stores emptied of fans and air conditioners.

Meteorologists say the comparison with last summer is misleading because it was unusually hot and dry in much of Europe.

"It's a little cooler than it should be but it's not too bad," said Vienna weatherman Ernst Rudel of the past few weeks, describing the rains sweeping Austria this summer as "a little more precipitation than normal."Frosty temperatures

But the wacky weather has in some areas led to virtual winter in July.

Instead of hiking, tourists in Germany's Bavarian Alps have worked up a sweat with snowball fights and sleigh rides after heavy snowfalls that dusted peaks -- and in some cases valleys under 2,000 meters (6,500 feet).

In central Germany's Thuringia forest, guests recently gathered for an open-air theater performance clasped icy fingers around cups of mulled wine usually served at winter apres-ski parties. Apparently it's no attraction: Stefanie Loeser of the nearby regional tourist office in Erfurt said frosty temperatures and two weeks of rain have hit tourism hard.

Britons -- whose summer weather has been the envy of no one over the years -- have even less to laugh about than usual.

The July cold snap prompted the British Gas company to put its winter emergency contingency plan into operation to meet a surge in demand from people turning on central heating.

Shrewsbury in northwest England had a temperature of 11.4 degrees (53 Fahrenheit) on July 8 -- the coldest ever for the month. To the south, the town of Wittering, near Cambridge, absorbed 121.5 millimeters (4.8 inches) of rainfall between July 1-8 -- two and a half times the monthly average.

The sun shone a miserly three days in July in most of Britain, and on Thursday much of the country was murky and drizzly yet again. It was a particularly bad sign, being St. Swithin's Day, when folklore holds that rain means another 40 consecutive days of downpours.

Elliot Frisby, a spokesman for the VisitBritain tourism board, maintained a stiff upper lip. "We don't sell Britain as a sun, sea and sand destination," he said.

Persistent rain also left parts of Scandinavia gasping for relief.Hard cold economics

In Denmark, the average precipitation for June was 74 millimeters (three inches), a third above normal, while more rain fell last weekend in the southern Swedish province of Smaaland than the normal amount for all of July -- up to 130 millimeters (5.2 inches) in some places.

Swedish ice cream producer Ingemar Folkeson said he was considering laying off nine of his 46 workers because of a drop in demand. Lars Fenner, managing director for Nestle in Denmark, said his company's ice cream sales were "10 to 15 percent below normal."

In France, where 15,000 people -- most of them elderly -- died from last year's heat wave, the government has spent euro66 million (US$82 million) to hire summer staff and install air conditioners at retirement homes, a Health Ministry official said.

But so far this summer, weather in the Paris area has been mostly chilly and overcast, while the sun down south has been seasonal but nothing like the scorching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) heat of last year.

In Vienna, the ducks paddling round a pond in Vienna's Prater green belt area didn't seem to mind another day of rain and cold Thursday.

But sidewalk cafe tables and outdoor pools were again empty. Rain-slicked streets glistened and for Hubert Pichler, who runs a roller coaster and rents bikes in the nearby Prater amusement park, the wet spelled another day of business down the drain.

"I already made 10 percent less business in May and in June I was down almost 30 percent," Pichler groused. "We've only had three days of real summer this year -- that's a bit heavy."

Hubert Teubenbacher, in charge of Vienna's outdoor pools, said attendance was down 70 percent over last year with only 304,565 visitors up to June compared to 1,052,680 the same time last year.

"We are hoping for a nice August," he said.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining.

Angela Steinkellner, who runs an indoor pool and spa south of Vienna, said demand was up 40 percent for the tanning machines. Video rental store owner Georg Schneider said he was doing 30 percent more business than usual.

Travel agent Angelika Plotz said that unlike last year, she was fully booked for the rest of the month for Greece, Spain and most other points south.

"They just want to flee," she said of her clients.

"The weather is so depressing!"

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