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Mixedwood Plains


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The Climate of the Mixedwood Plains

    Climate makes up a big part of the Mixedwood Plains ecozone. This urban area has a semi-continental climate. The climate is mild and rainfall is abundant. This kind of weather is moderated by the surrounding Great Lakes.

 The Mixedwood Plains focuses on the cities of Toronto, Windsor, Montreal, Quebec, Hamilton, Ottawa, London and Mississauga. They have cool, short winters with an average temperature of -7oc, and a relatively long, mild summer. The precipitation is about 700mm to 1000mm, making the growing season 180 to 26 days.

Toronto’s climate is moderated by Lake Ontario. Its summers tend to be hot and very humid, while winters are severe with heavy snowfall. Rainfall occurs regularly throughout the year and summer, even though the sunniest season, is also usually the wettest. Autumn is the best time to travel to Toronto because the temperatures are less extreme than summer or winter, with mild days and cool nights(Fig.1). Severe thunderstorms sometimes appear in Toronto. Some of the storms move into the city, causing major damages. For example, the storm of August 19, 2005, which has been described as a "once in a thousand years" event. Over 185mm of rain fell over a period of a few hours. Many bridges and roadways were washed out, and insurance claims from sewers and flood damage went over 500 million dollars. This was the worst flood in Toronto for the past 51 years (refer to fig.2)! Finch Avenue West was washed out by the Black Creek and created a 7m hole, which was a major damage caused by the flood. It took 6 months to re-construct the roadway. These sorts of events will occur more frequently due to urbanization and global warming.

Windsor has one of the warmest climates of all the cities in Ontario. The Great Lakes not only controls the climate, it also controls Windsor’s humidity, which a lot of people feel as uncomfortable. Windsor has a sunny climate. Summer has mostly warm or hot sunny days. Winters are still severe, even though it’s a warm city. Snow depths greater than of 1cm are seen about 53 days, compared to 65 days in the north of Toronto. Smog is becoming a problem in Ontario because of the factories near US and in Canada. Windsor’s smog comes every summer. In 2004, downtown Windsor’s air quality dropped to moderate for 49 days. There were 2 days where the air quality was poor.

Because Ottawa lies further north than Toronto, the weather is significantly colder. Unlike many of the Ontario’s cities, Ottawa does not sit on the shores of Lake Ontario. This results higher summer temperatures, but it increases the harshness of winters. Ottawa has warm summers and very cold winters. Snow depths of greater than 1cm is found around 120 days each year.

Montreal has predominantly wet, warm summers, and cold snowy winters. There is a lot of snowfall during the winter; also snowfall is common in both spring and autumn. Harsh wind chills may occur. In summer, there is plenty of sunshine, which is very pleasant. High humidity occurs occasionally. Summer is the wettest season and sometimes temperatures in are as high as 25oC (refer to Fig.3). There are gorgeous late autumn heat waves that occur frequently. They are enjoyed as "Indian summers". Rain can be expected any time of the year. Winter or summer, visitors and residents can avoid bad weather by using Montreal’s network of underground passages nearly 30kms in length, leading to shops, offices, department stores, concert halls, parking lots, hotels, restaurants and cinemas. Montrealer's just simply call it the "underground city" or "the underground". This "underground city" is located beneath downtown Montreal.

Quebec City is cold most of the time in a year. June, July, August, September and October are the only months in a year that is free of snow. The annual average snowfall is about 4m, and temperatures drops well below freezing in November to early April. Quebec City is known to snow all the way to early May. The climate also includes harsh wind chills. Summer days in contrast, are pleasantly warm and sunny which is ideal for outdoor activities. Summer nights can be quite cool though. Heat waves come in early October for a few weeks, making autumn the most popular season to travel to Quebec City.

Even though the Mixedwood Plains is a great place to live, the urbanization is creating smog, which is slowly becoming a big problem. In Canada’s worst smog case, the air quality dropped to poor from Windsor, all the way to Montreal. Smog is a mixture of airborne particles and gases that are formed when certain chemicals are mixed together and exposed to sunlight, and that’s why smog is worse on a sunny day. It is usually a Greyish-white or yellowish-brown haze. This is very harmful to children and adults with lung and heart problems. What causes this horrible haze? Most of it comes from vehicle exhaust and coal-fired power plants. Ontario’s government has planned to shut down these plants in 2009. Sometimes it did not seem possible as temperatures went over 30oc, but people such as the energy minister and the environment minister assured the action of the changes, even though there is no exact date. By shutting down these coal-fired power plants, we can all breathe, live and enjoy our life easily!

The Mixedwood Plains is a pleasant place to live, although it has its faults. Incredible nature and human-built attractions make this ecozone astounding. Everybody should take a chance and come and see these wonderful cities.

By: Annie

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