Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mar 29 Storm snowfall totals

This satellite image today clearly shows where the bulk of snow fell with yesterday's storm across southern MB. The snow line extends from the SK/MB/ND border point to north of Melita through Souris to Portage and into the Gimli area. South of this line, precipitation was mainly a wet snow/rain mix that didn't accumulate much, generally less than 5 cm. North of this line was mainly snow with more significant accumulations of 15 to 30 cm.

Some of the snowfall totals reported included..
Brandon         12 cm
Neepawa 18 cm
Strathclair 30 cm
Rossburn 18 cm
Dauphin 20 cm
Carberry 10 cm
Amaranth 25 cm
Alonsa 35 cm
McCreary 25 cm
Steep Rock 15 cm
Ashern 30 cm
Lundar 10 cm

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring break begins with winter storm

Well, it's looking more and more likely that a significant winter storm is going to be affecting Southern MB this weekend, particularly for areas north and west of Winnipeg Saturday afternoon through Saturday night. With this weekend marking the start of spring break in southern MB, the storm could put a damper on travel plans for some people especially later Saturday. The details..

A storm system over Montana Saturday morning will move northeast and intensify as it moves over SW Manitoba Saturday evening. Snow from this system will spread over much of southern MB by midday Saturday, becoming heavy at times Saturday afternoon into Saturday evening. The snow will likely be mixed at first with some rain over the Red River valley and SE Manitoba Saturday afternoon, including Winnipeg before it changes to all snow by Saturday evening. Further west, the precipitation will likely stay as all snow with heavy snow possible west of Portage Saturday afternoon. So if you have travel plans to the west Saturday, it would be advisable to leave Winnipeg as early as possible Saturday before the heavy snow develops by early to mid afternoon. For Saturday night, the band of snow should taper off in Winnipeg and the Red River valley as a dry slot pushes in, while heavy snow will be persisting north and west of Winnipeg through the Brandon, Dauphin, McCreary and Interlake areas. These areas will likely see the heaviest accumulations from this storm system with 20 to 30 cm possible by Sunday morning. Here in Winnipeg and SE Manitoba, amounts should be less (perhaps 10 cm) since there will be some melting precipitation at first, and the area of snow will not persist as long as areas further north and west. However if the warm air is less pronounced, or the system is slower.. Winnipeg could see heavier amounts of snow through Saturday night. All in all.. should be an interesting system to watch over the next day or two, and could add an extra element to Earth Hour tomorrow evening (lights out between 8 and 9 pm... maybe Mother Nature will do it for us!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cold morning.. Potential snowfall looms for weekend

Spring has yet to arrive in Southern MB despite it's official start last week. Temperatures this morning across Southern MB were well below normal, with readings of -15 to -20C across much of the area. The coldest temperature was a -25C reading at Wasagaming in Riding Mtn National Park. Despite the cold readings, no record low temperatures were set across MB this morning, as record lows for today are still around the -30C mark (yes, it has been worse!)

Cold weather will dominate over the next couple of days before temperatures moderate by the end of the week.  However models are indicating the potential for 5-10 cm of snow across southern MB Saturday into Saturday night as a fairly vigorous storm system tracks out of Montana into southern SK and then into the MB interlake. Given this track, the heaviest snow would likely stay north and west of Winnipeg, however there could be a band of heavy snow accompanying the system as it moves across southern MB late Saturday along with gusty southerly winds.  Hopefully this system behaves like most weather systems this year, and the bulk of the snow misses Winnipeg and the Red River valley.  I'm tired of winter.. I don't want any more snow!        

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Coolest Winter Since 2001 for US, Globe According To NOAA Data

With tomorrow being the first day of spring, it's a good time to reflect on the type of winter we've had. According to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. the average temperature across both the contiguous U.S. and the globe during climatological winter (December 2007-February 2008) was the coolest since 2001. In terms of winter precipitation, Pacific storms, bringing heavy precipitation to large parts of the West, produced high snowpack that will provide welcome runoff this spring.  The storm track took storms through the US midwest into the Great Lakes area, bringing near record amounts of snow to southern Ontario and southern Quebec.

Complete article at:

For the record, the winter here in Winnipeg averaged about 1.5C below normal (-16.8C vs -15.3C) making it the coldest winter here since the winter of 2000-2001 which averaged -17.6C. The bulk of the cold weather this year was in February which averaged almost 5 degrees below normal (-18.2C vs -13.6C). December was just slightly below average (-15.0C vs -14.4C), while January was slightly above (-17.0C vs -17.8C).  Melted precipitation over the Dec-Feb period was below average at the airport (40 mm vs 53 mm) with a very dry January. After above normal snowfall in December, there has been a notable lack of precipitation events in January, February and now well into March. This bodes well for a lack of spring flooding, but it will become an increasing concern for agriculture and forestry if the dry pattern persists through spring. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Red River ice twice as thick this year

(from:  Work is underway to break up ice on the Red River. Two Amphibex machines are out on the ice near Breezy Point, an area prone to jams.  The Red River, from Selkirk to Lake Winnipeg, is getting a lot of attention this year, after ice jams caused major problems last year. But Manitoba's Amphibex is better than ever, after the province spent $200 000 upgrading it. The machine is now equipped with better hydraulic capabilities and sonar radar, to help determine the ice thickness.

"The ice last year was 20 inches thick," Minister of Water Stewardship, Christine Melnick, told CTV News. "This year its 40 inches, so we're very pleased to have two machines in the province."

The second Amphibex is on lease for the season, but the province is moving ahead with plans to buy another more powerful Amphibex machine. It should arrive by next spring.  

Monday, March 10, 2008

Milder weather.. but when will the snow go?

Looks like a couple of milder days coming up, with near to slightly above freezing temperatures forecast through Wednesday. (Not sure about the +2 for today.. southerly wind out of an Arctic ridge.. but we should see near freezing anyways) This, along with that strengthening March sun, should help melt some of that 20-30 cm snowpack across the Red River valley. But it's going to take more than a couple of mild days to get rid of all this snow.. so the question is.. when can we expect this snowcover to go completely in the Winnipeg area? If we get into a mild pattern, the snow can go pretty quickly this time of year, sometimes within a few days. But this year may be a little slower due to an expected pattern of below normal temperatures the rest of the month.

For reference, here's a list of average dates when Winnipeg lost its snow cover over the last few years (+/- a couple of days depending on your location)

2007.. March 28 (30 cm snowpack on March 24th)
2006.. April 4
2005.. April 4
2004.. April 5
2003.. March 22
2002.. March 30
2001.. April 3
2000.. Feb 22 (+16.5C by March 6)

Based on this, climatology would suggest our snowcover should be gone the first week of April or so this year, barring any large snowstorms before then (let's hope not!) Take the poll (right) to vote on when you think we'll lose our snowcover this year.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Snow moving into Winnipeg this evening

The snow has been having a tough time surfacing in Winnipeg and much of the Red River valley this evening. Radar has been showing echoes over us much of the evening, however dry air in the low levels has been evaporating the snow before it hits the ground. However it looks like a leading edge of snow will finally make it in by 10 pm or so into Winnipeg from the west, and with those gusty southerly winds of 40 to 60 km/h, look for visibilities to drop significantly in snow and blowing snow, perhaps 1 km or less especially in open areas outside the city. The snow should last for a few hours with up to 5 cm possible before it tapers off overnight.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another -30 morning

With a low of -32 at Winnipeg airport this morning, this marked the 21st time this winter the airport has recorded a low of -30 or lower. There were 3 occurrences in Dec, 10 in Jan, and 7 in Feb.  

As for -30 temperatures in March, it does occur from time to time. Last year we hit -30.8C on March 5th, virtually a year ago to the day.  And back in 2003, 6 of the first 8 days in March registered lows of -30 or lower. At Winnipeg airport, the latest -30 reading in March was March 24, 1974 (-31.7) while the latest -30 reading ever in Winnipeg was on March 30, 1882 (-31.1) 

That being said, it looks like we'll see another -30 night tonight although we get a bit of a southerly wind overnight which may prevent the airport from bottoming out as cold as last night. Then that should be the last of the -30 weather, dare I say for the season?!  We have a nice warming trend over the weekend into next week, with temperatures near freezing next week. Hopefully, this upcoming mild weather lasts for awhile, but I'm concerned that we'll fall back into the same pattern of the past few weeks with a return to below normal temperatures by the end of next week. Hopefully, that doesn't pan out.

Note the record high for Winnipeg today.. 16.5C in 2000. That's what can happen here in early March when there's no snow on the ground!  That year we lost our snowcover by the end of February, leading to some exceptionally mild weather early in March. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another cold snap

Well, like it or not (and I suspect most people are in the latter category) another cold snap is on the way, as the weather pattern of February persists into March. Another Arctic high is poised to push south across the Prairies over the next day or two, bringing yet another cold snap to southern MB. Temperatures will be well below normal this week, with daily highs in the minus teens and lows in the minus 20s. In fact, we may even get close to the -30 mark again by Thursday or Friday morning (and you thought it was safe to put that block heater cord away!) Temperatures will be moderating over the weekend into next week, but at this point, there doesn't appear to be a major pattern change to signal a welcome sign of spring. Note that last year at this time, we had twice as much snow on the ground as this year... however mild temperatures in the last 10 days of the month quickly eliminated the snowpack by the 28th. Here's hoping it happens again this year!

Speaking of snowpack.. thank you to the city of Winnipeg snowcrew who put a mountain of snow halfway up my front lawn today (and chewed up half my lawn along with it!). As it wasn't tough enough to get rid of the snow that's out there already, now I have to watch Mount Everest slowly melt away in front of my house. Leave it on the boulevard next time please!!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

February climate summary

Cold and variable..

In what will likely be a surprising statistic to most Winnipeg residents, Feb 2008 turned out to be the coldest February since… last year! Although the month averaged some 5 degrees below normal (-18.1C at Winnipeg airport, -17.0C at my site), it was still not as cold as Feb 2007 which averaged -18.8C (-16.9C here), thanks to a very cold first half that saw temperatures drop below -40C at the airport. This year, the cold wasn’t as intense, but temperatures were generally below normal most of the month, occasionally interrupted by brief mild spells. The result was a variable month with large swings in temperatures as cold Arctic outbreaks would be moderated every few days by weather systems crossing the province from the west. This roller coaster pattern was often accompanied by gusty winds, with several episodes of severe windchills below -40 during the month adding to the perception that the month was colder than actual temperatures indicated. Temperatures for the month at my location ranged from a high of +0.4C on the 16th, to a low of -34.5C on the 20th.

Snowfall was a little higher than normal, with about 20 cm recorded at my site (14 cm normal for February) This was mainly due to meager snowfalls every few days from passing weather systems, the largest fall giving 6 cm on Feb 28. Snowpack was fairly constant at around 20 cm during the month, about half the snowdepth this time last year. This has led to a low risk of Red River flooding this year barring any major changes in precipitation over the next month or two.

All in all.. a cold but variable month with above average snowfall.