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More wind than before?

More wind than before?

It is possible, yes, that the last few months have been windier than average. “We can't prove it with numbers, but we still have a lot of low pressure systems in recent months,” says Simon Legault, a meteorologist with Environment Canada. It was not dangerous in terms of low pressure systems, but it often comes with wind.

He explains that this is because gases are always moving from areas where the pressure is higher to areas where the pressure is lower. When a low (another word for “low pressure”) passes through an area, there are generally more winds at that time.

“In the Quebec region, with the river shrinking, the winds could have been a little bit more this year,” Mr. Legault adds. So the impression that there is more wind in recent months is not necessarily wrong, but we cannot verify it.

There is no upward trend

Now, while the idea of ​​strong winds may have been true over the past few months, it is unlikely to be true in the long term, for two reasons.

The first is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that outside the Arctic, where winds are expected to blow stronger and stronger on average, the trend should be consistent. Rather, it decreases by the end of the century. (Let me stress a small point: we're talking here about… Averages, and averages only. This downward trend in average winds, if confirmed, does not invalidate expectations that extreme events, such as hurricanes, will occur more often in the future due to global warming.

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It should be noted here that some research results contradict this expectation, such as: Study published in 2019 in Nature – climate change They found that this weak trend reversed at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, and that the winds regained some strength between 2010 and 2017, about 2% more. So let's keep in mind that there is no certainty here.

We must also emphasize that outside of the general trend, regional differences can be very strong An article published last year in Atmospheric research. Therefore, the general slowing down of winds on a global scale does not prevent certain sectors from being, on the contrary, more and more windy.

So what about the Quebec region? In fact, and this is the second aspect to consider here, the IPCC forecast indicates a slight weakening in the south of the province at -2%, and not stronger winds as in recent months.

Certainly, the data from the meteorological station at Jean Lesage Airport does not show any upward trend. Unfortunately, it is incomplete, as for nearly 20 years, from the end of the 1990s until the mid-2000s, it seems that this station stopped recording wind strength, for reasons I do not know.

But whatever the case, I was still able to compare the winds blowing over Quebec in May over two periods, namely 1970-1990 (which serves as a reference) and the last nine years (2016-2024). As the table below shows, only an intelligent person would find any reason at all to believe that the area is windier than before.

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In fact, in the long term, it appears that there may be a very slight weakening of winds in Quebec, but more complete data will be needed to draw definitive conclusions.

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