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Warning preparedness meteorologist Geoff Coulson was in Woodstock to share his knowledge of severe weather and how to deal with it

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Warning preparedness meterologist Geoff Coulson spoke about severe weather Wednesday at Learning Unlimited, an educational program for local seniors. (HEATHER RIVERS/SENTINEL-REVIEW)

Warning preparedness meterologist Geoff Coulson spoke about severe weather Wednesday at Learning Unlimited, an educational program for local seniors. (HEATHER RIVERS/SENTINEL-REVIEW)

A warm fall could mean an extra snowy, blowy winter for Oxford County and the rest of southwest region.

“Lake Huron is running a few degrees warmer than normal,” explained warning preparedness meteorologist Geoff Coulson. “From everything I’m seeing, it’s going to be a more traditional winter due to a more active lake-effect season.”

Coulson, who works in Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Toronto office, was in Woodstock Wednesday morning to give a talk on severe weather to Learning Unlimited, an educational program for local seniors.

While Coulson acknowledged Ontario “didn’t have much of a summer,” cool temperatures were negated by a record-breaking fall with a four-to-five day stretch of days with highs of over 30 degrees.

“It had never been so warm, so late, for so long,” Coulson said.

While Coulson’s expertise does not lie in climate change, he said Environment Canada experts such as climatologist David Phillips are already seeing its effects.

One example of climate change is the melting of permafrost in northern Canada.

He expects global warming will also create more flash floods in the future, and a temperatures climb, provide a greater chance for freezing rain during the winter months creating “a messy mix of precipitation.”

Coulson, a 30-plus year veteran of Environment Canada, has been providing “targeted weather information” to residents in the form of watches, warning and advisories.

He said he is referred to as “sad weather guy” because he deals in severe weather such as freezing rain, snow squalls, tornadoes and flash floods.

Advanced equipment and technology, weather volunteers, alongside social media, have advanced the art of weather prediction.

“There has never been a better time to track weather than 2017,” he said.

He said the industry is also moving towards cell phone alerts that will let a user know if they are in an area where severe weather is forecast.

Weather junkies can also track the weather themselves through sites such as lighteningmaps.org, intellicast.com, windy.com and wunderground.com, where citizen scientists share their weather results.

HRivers@postmedia.com