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Formula One Weather Forecast: Canadian Grand Prix 2010

Ian Fergusson | 17:37 UK time, Sunday, 6 June 2010

Montreal, 11-13 June 2010 (Round 8)

(This forecast will be regularly updated. This entry: Sunday 13 June, 15:30hrs BST)

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Current Forecast Headlines:

(PPN = Precipitation)

Emphasis: No significant change from last update. Dry or mostly dry race expected with low % chance of isolated showers during the afternoon, especially later.

NOWCAST UPDATE: Note McGill (Montreal) radar is currently tending to pick-up spurious light-rate returns with no ground truth observations to support falling PPN at this stage. Some small isolated showers are, however, forming further west and NW, as evidenced periodically on the feed from Landrienne radar.

Friday: O'cast; a few sunny spells; chance of PPN 10%.  Max 22C. Winds light SW.

Saturday: Rain clearing AM; chance of PPN later, 30%. Max 23C. Winds moderate, ENE.

Sunday: Partly cloudy with sunny spells; chance of PPN 30%. Max 25C. Winds light, E. 


MontrealGP-2007_MarkThompso.jpgI noticed a comment written on a web forum, regarding the last race weekend forecast in Turkey:

"It's easy: Sunny and dry," this person wrote.  "....so why bother with forecasts when it's just so obviously going to stay dry?"

Well, it may have seemed that way, but the 'very small risk of showers' highlighted in my blog that day was added because not all the forecast models were so bullish on keeping things 100% dry.

Indeed, during the race, a towering Cumulus congestus cloud - and associated moderate shower - formed close to the circuit. As it happened, it was the only one within a radius of many miles, but proved just how tricky offering this sort of site-specific forecast detail can be!  It's all the tougher, of course, when forecasting ahead for a local weather window of only a mere couple of hours.

So, let's see how well the forecasts square with reality this time around! Off we travel to the fantastic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, thankfully reinstated to this year's race calendar after an absence in 2009 - the first time it had been dropped since 1987. It's a race that has often become something of a Safety Car showcase and equally, one where inclement weather has proved an important component in the track action here on the Île Notre-Dame.

Forecast emphasis and synoptic evolution

Summary: Although much of southern and midwest USA will be enduring increasingly hot temperatures later this week, Montreal will see maxima remain closer to seasonal norms, or slightly above into the weekend.

A far less less progressive advance of very warm conditions up into Canada has been the solution favoured by two models (ECMWF and UKMO-GM) all week. Both keep the heat ridge away to the SW and the (US) GFS model, originally far more bullish in heating things up, has now drifted into better agreement. Expectations are thus for temperatures to range into the mid 20's C through Friday-Sunday, with increasing humidity during the weekend, too.

As a fairly weak ridge of high pressure develops through Thursday night from Hudson Bay southeast to the eastern seabord of the USA, the prospects for Friday's on-track action during Free Practice 1 and 2 look rather cloudy but dry after what could be a rather foggy start in some districts around Montreal and the St Lawrence valley.

However, as the upper level WNW flow then establishes and persists into the weekend, we'll see a threat of more disturbed conditions being fed eastwards through Ontario, Wisconsin and other districts adjacent to the Great Lakes.

  isohyets-noaa-fri-sat-sun12z.gifUS NOAA-NWS rainfall accumulation prediction, above, for Saturday is indicative of potential for rain during the morning and showers during free practice 3 & qualifying in Montreal (red dot).

Saturday heralds an increased threat of wet weather, enhanced collectively in output over the past 48hrs from the model ensemble. Rain associated with a frontal boundary edges southeastwards through Ontario and Quebec this morning, as it runs through Montreal and south across the US border into Vermont and environs. This will wash the circuit back to 'green' conditions. Thereafter, it's all about the condions left in it's wake. High-resolution precipitation modelling today from NOAA-NWS suggests the rain clears southwards ahead of FP3, with a few showers then just about possible into the afternoon, coupled to some brighter spells slowly developing. 

In a rather complex sandwich on Sunday, high pressure is building to the north around Hudson bay; an upper trough sinking southwards from east-central Canada; a quasi-stationary warm front sitting much further south; and a low pressure system approaching eastwards over the northern Great Lakes later during the day, swept-up within the prevailing flow around the high pressure to the north of Montreal.

Cloud will tend to increase steadily during the day as the influence of the approaching low becomes more evident. For the most part, there's a general lack of major forcing (e./g., absence of nearby frontal influences). The threat of rain will increase overnight and into a distinctly soggy looking spell through Monday.

So, a low chance of showers this afternoon. I anticipate the 'centre of gravity' for the threat of deeper convection to be held further southwards /  westwards.

Dry weather looks the statistical likely outcome for the race, with Probability of Precipitation (PoP) predictive model solutions still ranging 30 to 40%. With increasing cloud, some of the model output maximum temperatures (into high 20's) look a tad optimistic; so we can shave a degree or two off these and offer a likely TMax this afternoon around 25C. 

Current forecast confidence for Friday's dry and settled theme is high; high for Saturday's potential for mixed weather and high for Sunday's mostly dry conditions and small chance of showers.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for this Ian, I really appreciate it. Can't believe how many races have been predicted to have rain at some point this year - even Turkey had several drops to add to the mix.

    I was wondering, are you yourself an F1 fan or do you just put those little 'snippets' in to broaden things out a bit? ;-)

    Anyway, keep up the good work, this blog has been excellent for F1 fans this year.

  • Comment number 2.

    This forecast doesn't surprise me too much, as alot of forecasts have suggested this weekend could be wet, albeit with change in the amount of rain, when, etc. A bit of rain would certainly be fun during the race though.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Departured, many thanks for your kind remarks - glad the blog is proving of interest! In response to your question: yes, I'm a lifelong, passionate, dyed-in-the-wool F1 fan and doubtless bore many of my colleagues rigid, as I offer my detailed post-session / post-race analyses here in the BBC West newsroom! I should add, in all seriousness, that my very understanding management within a combination of BBC Journalism, BBC Weather and BBC New Media have facilitated this blog coming into existence, coupled to the enthusiasm of our BBC F1 Online Editor, Andrew Benson. I'm hoping to add some new features to it in the near future, too. Thanks again for your comment - Best wishes, Ian

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi again Stevvy! As you note, the forecast emphasis for some unsettled weather into the weekend has been strongly signalled over a fair period of model runs now. The nitty-gritty of where and when any rain falls remains tricky to pin-down with anything other than moderate confidence (for now), but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Race Day sees some sort of weather drama. Worth adding that the Canadian meteorologists covering Quebec & Montreal share a similar opinion! Best, Ian

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi again Ian. It does seem like it'll be quite difficult to be 100% certain, especially as far as thundery showers go (they can of course always pop up at any time, eg 2008 a random thundery shower popped up just before the end of qualifying, passed about a mile away from the circuit, and disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared in the first place). As with Turkey though, it's also a problem trying to pin down the weather for a small area, in a small window of time, which makes things that much more difficult. However, I'm loving these blogs, and I look forward to them continuing all season long (and all being well, next season too).

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Stevvy - totally agree. Once we are faced with localised convective events, rather than a broader development such as frontal rain approaching (e.g., as we saw in Australia this season), it becomes awfully tricky with these site-specific forecasts (I face it each year preparing forecasts for Glastonbury; Bristol Balloon Fiesta and Cheltenham Festival, too!).
    Of course, we base the degree of t-storm threat on various modelled parameters (including CAPE, Lifted Index etc.), much as we do with all manner of other variables to assess the likely rainfall rate expected more generally from any showers. In my estimation, this Canadian weekend will prove a very tricky one to call accurately and especially as the Sat-Sun evolution into Montreal looks very developmental and bound to change to-and-fro, run-to-run. Indeed, if anything, the 06Z run of GFS, as just one example, offers a more potent threat of showers for Saturday (as do the Canadians themselves using their model). We'll witness this sort of flip-flop of local and regional emphasis through the week, I am sure, but hopefully we'll see better mesoscale consensus across the ensemble by around late Wednesday-Thursday. The broadscale pattern into the weekend already has pretty good support across all the operational centres... which is a start! Best, Ian

  • Comment number 7.

    That in itself is positive Ian if most places are pretty much in agreement at this stage, shows confidence is geneally higher than normal despite being a few days away from the running. The fact the Canadians in particular seem to agree is also a boost. Just got to see if the confidence is well placed or not.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks for the response Ian.

    Great to hear :-)

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Once again, many thanks for your blog Ian.

    I have a feeling you might need to update this one a bit more than Turkey ;)

  • Comment number 11.

    If you're right about severe thunderstorms, surely if the rain associated with that is extremely heavy, we'd be looking at a Safety Car/red flag situation.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks for the forecast Ian. You've been kept busy so far this year with uncertain weather. One good thing about the Gilles Villeneuve circuit is regardless of the weather it produces a good race but rain might just spice it up that bit more. The problem however is if it's heavy rain it means aquaplaning and aquaplaning means crashes and in Canada that means SC's and red flags as stevvy says. Valencia in two weeks could sure do with some rain though.

    Thanks again Ian and keep up the great blogs.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Stevvy, obviously it needs stressing that the finer-scale convective developments - and attendant threat of any severe weather - are impossible to reliably localise at this range. It'll be instructive to see how the high-resolution modelling from NOAA-NWS handles the development. The latest model runs (including midnight GFS) persist in offering a real threat of some inclement conditions dotted around Montreal into Sunday afternoon. If this growing level of continuity continues, we'll be looking at a high probability of a rain-affected race. Clearly, any severe thunderstorms - or for that matter any heavy downpours - across this (effectively street) circuit would result in very difficult conditions indeed. We've seen wet events here before, of course, but from memory not any truly heavy downpours. Anyway, still plenty of time for the model emphasis to shift somewhat... be it for better or worse! Best, Ian

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Ian. You're correct about rain at Montreal before, and the last race with rain there was in 2000, which wasn't a truly heavy downpour, more.......a consistent shower, which wasn't light (eg Australia 2010), but which wasn't very heavy either (eg Malaysia 09). It was wet enough for full wets I believe, but it wasn't a downpour as such. As for this weekend, obviously we're still a few days away, but I think the fact that the forecasts have singled out Sunday as the worst day for quite a few days now, and seem to be slowly beginning to agree on the rain threat, then it does look likely, but of course we're a few days away yet, and there is of course also the issue of how heavy the rain is (if it does fall) and is it just light rain, normal rain (well, ok, normal in terms of not being light but not being a downpour either), or it being heavy rain. Either way, this is certainly a very interesting and intriguing developing story, which seems like it wants to give us umpteen possibilities for Sunday, though of course Saturday shouldn't be forgotten, as it does seem like there's a risk (albeit not a particularly high risk at this stage) of rain affecting the on track action on Saturday too. Looking forward to further updates.

  • Comment number 15.

    I appreciate the risk of rain at various times over the weekend hasn't really been more than about 50%, but I do hope we get some rain on Sunday, even if it's just light rain. Wouldn't be surprised if the fact the race is starting an hour or 2 earlier than normal (due to the World Cup seemingly) ends up meaning it raining between 2-4pm (which would be the normal race running time), but not between 12-2pm.

  • Comment number 16.

    Great video forecast, thanks. Looks like Montreal should get some showers on Sunday, just depends on timing really as Stevvy says the race time start locally is 12 noon


  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Connor, thanks for the comment. The new video forecasts have just been commissioned by BBC Sport F1 and are planned to now become a regular feature, taking a broad look at the prospects and uploaded generally on a Thursday or Friday morning. Clearly, we'd need to be in the weather studio permanently throughout every session to get the nowcast facets spot-on, but I'm sure most people appreciate that's impractical in our schedule! The prospect for showers on Saturday and Sunday is, by definition, never going to be a dead certainty - indeed anything but, with the PoP's on both days currently around 40% mark. Moreover, until we see them start appearing on radar, it'll be a speculative situation but the teams will be well aware of the potential for weather-related hiccups, and avoiding repeats of the certain, erm, 'issues' as we saw befall two teams especially in the Malaysia quali! Best, Ian

  • Comment number 18.

    Excellent blog, Ian, thanks very much. I didn't even know such a thing existed until today. Useful links to the local services too. Nice work.

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Dave, welcome to the blog - hope you find it useful and I'm much obliged for your kind feedback. Best, Ian

  • Comment number 20.

    Yes, absolutely understandable but great that one is being done for each weekend. You'll be on the pre-race show by 2011 ;) Indeed, i'm no expert but it's been clear in several races how trying to predict when the rain will hit, even in a short time frame, can be difficult to call correctly


  • Comment number 21.

    Really interesting blog and forecast Ian, thanks. Looks like it is going to be an interesting weekend of racing!

  • Comment number 22.

    Love the video forecast addition =)

  • Comment number 23.

    Well Ian, I don't know if you've noticed the latest forecast from the guys over at Autosport (only mentioning them as you've mentioned them before) but they now say that rain is expected in the early hours Canadian time, and expected to last certainly until mid morning at least, if not longer, and raceday is likely to be dry, with any rain falling not being very heavy, unlikely Saturday. Any thoughts? As I don't think anyone forecast rain to be around for so long tomorrow, if at all,

  • Comment number 24.

    This shows that rain is most likely on Saturday morning with a wet track for third practice and damp conditions for qualifying with the risk of showers. Sunday should be dry with a small chance of rain.


  • Comment number 25.

    Hi Stevvy and James, yes, you'll note from this morning's update how this shift in emphasis has been expected during the last 24 hrs with the forecast (we awaited the model runs from late yesterday for complete consensus). The key change is the enhancement of the feature for this morning, which was originally expected to run a tad to the south and deliver showers for Montreal, but it became evident by late yesertday that a 'direct hit' with more extensive dynamic rain was inevitable by early this morning. The high-resolution US modelling is still eager to throw-up a few showers later today after the frontal clearance - we shall see. Once again, it's a nowcast issue. As of yesterday's update, I mentioned the decreasing threat of wet weather for Sunday and last night's ensemble continues to re-assert this with even greater confidence. It's been a fascinating and extremely complex forecast evolution, for sure! Cheers, Ian

  • Comment number 26.

    Well, it does seem that today will be hit and miss as far as conditions for FP3 and qualifying go, does seem uncertain as to just how wet the track will be for those 2 sessions, but mixed conditions would be good fun. I can see everyone going out first thing in each session (as they should have done in Malaysia) to get a banker lap in, just in case a shower does appear later on, and if it doesn't, then they'll obviously go out later on in the session as well to try and set a quicker time, but it does seem like the conditions will be anything but certain. Thanks for the further update Ian.

  • Comment number 27.

    Totally agree, Stevvy - althought the emphasis by quali should be leaning more towards dry conditions with perhaps a shower around, theyy can't take chances. Equally, the rain this morning will surely leave some dicy sections on the circuit well into this afternoon as it slowly all dries-up. We saw in a Barcelona session how Petrov (as I recall) went off as he put a rear tyre onto residual puddles gathered in a kerb in the braking area, after overnight showers had long since cleared. Today will be all about who takes major risks or is a tad careless with thhe chance of some residual wet areas. Cheers, Ian

  • Comment number 28.

    Ian, would you say Qualifying is more than likely going to be occuring in damp conditions, with the potential for dries halfway through? Also, will showers more than likely occur through the session based on forecasts, meaning it'll be all about going out at the 'right moment'? :)

  • Comment number 29.

    Oooh, tricky one, D_M_N! It's all about the timing of clearing the current frontal rain that's washing the circuit right now (see radar loop link, top of this blog). Certainly a potential for some showers into this afternoon, albeit probably showing hints of getting brigher too by that stage...and any sunny spells and increasing temperatures could well help push up the shower threat. I can't see the circuit being wholly dry by the end of FP3, based on current progression of the rainfall, but it'll be tricky to judge the conditions for quali at this juncture. My hunch is some areas of residual dampness still probably around in the areas sheltered by the treelines, etc. Irrespective of weather-related issues appearing in real-time during quali, the teams would surely be crazy to sit in the garages and play it cool.... what if someone crashes on a damp patch and a red flag is brought out, leaving insufficient time to safely complete a flying lap, dry weather or not? Cheers, Ian

  • Comment number 30.

    Also, note on radar how it's now mostly drizzle and light rain, with the focus for heaviest PPN off to the SW as expected. The back (NW) edge of this feature now coming into view, so an improvement likely within an hour or so. Depending on how skies clear, or not, will help dictate how thhe circuit dries ahead of FP3.

  • Comment number 31.

    Interesting and informative response as always Ian. Interesting that you mention it possibly becoming possibly a bit sunnier and slightly higher temperatures, and rather than totally getting rid of the shower risk, it could increase the shower threat. It does seem like it'll be a case of radar watching all day for the teams. I also agree about the teams being crazy to wait before doing a lap. The only sensible thing to do (rain risk or not, and regardless of track conditions) is to get a banker lap in, in case it rains, or they wait too long, and a yellow flag or red flag comes out, and doesn't leave them enough time to get a good time in, and Canada is certainly 1 of those races where that's entirely possible. Also just to add another issue with the rain and track drying etc, some of the track seems to be covered by trees in areas, and that could also slow the drying process in certain areas, plus the area under the bridge heading into the chicane which then leads to the hairpin, that could stay wet for quite a while, even if the rest of the track is dry.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hmmmm, just reading your 2nd response there, I'd prefer some heavier rain, to give a higher chance of a wet track during FP3 and quali (maybe that's just me wanting extra excitement from it).

  • Comment number 33.

    Ah, OK... me thinks Qualifying will be dry, but hopefully not...

  • Comment number 34.

    Nice to see that the rain has gone away for practice and qualifying. (quelle surprise and sarcasm)

    Quick look at the radar shows a band of rain... to the south of the circuit and not likely to hit it... :(

  • Comment number 35.


    On this radar if you zoom out so the scale thing is 1000km on left you an see some rain aproaching montreal. Will it hit the circuit???

  • Comment number 36.

    Had a look at at this: https://www.theweathernetwork.com/weather/maps/

    I can't believe what I'm seeing! It looks as though rain will hit the circuit before the race!

  • Comment number 37.

    James S, you don't know where the circuit is on there, nor which direction any rain will head in. As far as post race goes, if there's rain between 2-4pm Canadian time I'll be annoyed, as that'd normally be the window for a grand prix to take place.

  • Comment number 38.

    Stevvy I see your point but in general, Montreal 'should' get some rain today. When it falls however, is another thing.

  • Comment number 39.

    On that website go to about 500km up and move north west the track is basically where that red pointer is because if you zoom right in you can see the circuit clearer and there is some round around 450km away heading towards montreal possibly race time!?

  • Comment number 40.

    That rain doesn't look like it's heading south - looks a bit north of Montreal to me and heading to the east above Montreal.

  • Comment number 41.

    As far as the rain that's showing on the radar that Andrew posted that's currently north of Montreal, that won't hit the track, and the foreast for the rest of the day shows the small band of rain heading towards Timmins won't get anywhere near Montreal during the race. I think if it's going to rain, it'll be a shower that pops up out of nowhere.

  • Comment number 42.

    Stevvy I agree because the rain i mentioned is to far away and is not moving quick enough. And as Stevvy said we need a shower from nowhere just like the rain that never came in Turkey

  • Comment number 43.


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