Monday, April 28, 2008

Today in weather history

50 years ago today in 1958, an unseasonably strong late season blizzard struck southern MB including Winnipeg, bringing 5 to 10 cm of snow, powerful wind gusts to 100 km/h or more, and record low temperatures. Winnipeg set a record low temperature of -13.3C that day, less than 24 hours after reaching a mild 15C the day before.

In Winnipeg, the cold front pushed through by 2 am that morning, sending temperatures of +4 to below freezing. By 6 am, the temperature was down to -8C and snow started to fall with winds increasing from the northwest. By 10 am, visibilities were down to 400 metres in snow and blowing snow, and temperatures had dropped even further to a record cold -13C. From noon to 4 pm, NW winds of 60 gusting over 80 km/h were giving blizzard conditions with visibilities down to 200 m at best. Temperatures were exceptionally cold, rising to only -11c by 4 pm (some 25 degrees colder than the day before) with windchills of -25 or lower. By 6 pm the blizzard was lifting, with skies clearing by 8 pm.

What a day that must have been! After hitting 15C on the 27th, much of southern MB would be hit with a severe blizzard the following day with almost January like weather. Wind gusts up to 87 km/h were reported in Winnipeg that day, with 100-105 km/h gusts around Portage La Prairie. The afternoon high of -8.3C in Winnipeg is the coldest ever for so late in the year, and is unequaled for its late season severity. I wonder what the forecast was calling for back then, and how did residents cope with such a drastic change in the weather?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Clearing skies reveal storm snow tracks

Satellite images today clearly reveal the snow tracks left from two late season winter storms that have affected southern MB over the past couple of days. The first track of snow extends from the Pilot Mound area through Portage to Gimli left over from Thursday's storm (April 24th). 10-20 cm of snow fell in this swath, with Winnipeg lying just on the eastern edge of the heavier snowband. Winnipeg saw a mix of snow and ice with this system with mainly rain or freezing rain further east. The second track of snow is over southeast MB just east of Winnipeg. This is snow left over from Saturday's storm (April 26) which dumped 15-25 cm across southeast MB closer to the Ontario border. This same storm system dropped record breaking snowfalls of 30-50 cm from northeastern SD into northern MN and NW Ontario. Quite the stormy finish to April!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Second storm system to affect NW Ontario tonight

Another storm system from the central Plains states will be moving north today, bringing an area of heavy snow to areas just east of the MB/Ontario border tonight into Saturday morning. Snow is expected to spread into northern Minnesota late today and across the border into NW Ontario this evening. Snow amounts will be heaviest between Kenora and Atikokan, where 15 to 25 cm of snow is possible by Saturday morning. The MB/Ontario border is expected to be on the western edge of the heaviest snow area.. with 5 to 10 cm possible in places like Sprague and Falcon Lake. Travellers heading east into NW Ontario or northern MN tonight into Saturday morning should be prepared for more wintery weather and poor driving conditions.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Messy mix for the Thursday morning commute

A winter storm watch has been issued for much of southern MB as a low pressure system from the Dakotas spreads an area of precipitation up from the south beginning tonight. The precipitation will start off as band of rain (with possible thunderstorms) near the international border this evening spreading north through the evening. As it moves north, it will encounter colder air aloft and rain will change to snow over southwest MB and the northern Red River valley by midnight continuing overnight into Thursday morning. Precipitation will likely stay mostly as rain over southeast MB tonight before changing to wet snow early Thursday. In between the rain and snow areas, there may be a band of freezing rain and ice pellets cutting though the Red River valley including Winnipeg overnight.

Snow accumulations with this system will be highly dependent on elevation and the position of the rain/snow line.. but at this point, it appears areas north and west of Winnipeg will see around 10 cm of snow overnight with up to 20 cm possible over higher elevations west of the Red River valley. Areas south and east of Winnipeg will see more rain at first before the changeover to snow, so snow amounts in these areas will only be in the coating to 5 cm range. Here in Winnipeg, snow amounts will be a tough call since we'll be right on the rain/snow line much of tonight, but as a first guess, 5 to 10 cm are possible by midday Thursday, although some of that will melt initially due to the warm ground. Note that this system has the potential for heavy precipitation rates due to elevated convection, thus snow or freezing rain could be heavy at times overnight into Thursday morning. In areas that are cold enough for snow, this will mean very poor visibilities in heavy snow, with snowfall rates of 2 to 3 cm/hr possible at times. All in all, a messy commute to work and school Thursday.. be prepared for anything!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Double trouble to end work week..

Two weather systems are poised to bring a double shot of precipitation to southern MB and NW Ontario Thursday and Friday. Both systems will form over the central Rockies and move through the Dakotas into NW Ontario. The first system is expected to bring precipitation into southern MB Wednesday night tapering off Thursday afternoon. This system looks like it will bring rain over southeast MB changing to wet snow over southwest MB. Winnipeg and the Red River valley is expected to be on the warm side of this system at first but may change to wet snow before the precipitation tapers off. Heavier embedded showers and possible thunderstorms may bring soaking rains of 25 mm or more over portions of southern MB with 10 cm or more of wet snow possible over higher elevations of western MB. The second system on Friday, tracking a little further east, will encounter colder air on the backside of Thursday's storm and may bring accumulating snow to southeast MB and NW Ontario including the Whiteshell and Lake of the Woods. An unsettled end to the work week.. with significant amounts of rain and/or wet snow to parts of southern MB and NW Ontario. Stay tuned..

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pack your winter gear if you're heading west this weekend..

For anyone planning on travel into western SK or southern AB this weekend, you had better bring along some winter gear and maybe a shovel. Ingredients are coming together for a powerful and prolonged late season winter storm to affect southern AB and western SK over the weekend, possibly lingering into Tuesday over portions of western SK. Heavy snow and strong winds may bring near blizzard conditions to these areas Sunday through Monday, especially along the SK/AB border where up to 50 cm of snow may fall in some areas by the time this storm winds up Tuesday. Luckily for southern MB the storm will weaken by the time it comes through here by mid week, although we will get colder with a possibility of snowshowers.. but at this point, nothing like what they will be experiencing out west this weekend! (Models hinting at a possibility of accumulating snow for us late next week, but we'll think positive for now!)

Internet problems

Note that I'm currently experiencing problems with my internet provider (Shaw).. so Rob's Obs is offline until these problems are fixed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mild week ahead.. big changes next week

Enjoy the mild temperatures much of this week.. because long range models are pointing towards a big change in the weather pattern for next week here in southern MB.  The big change will be beginning by this weekend over the western Prairies, with much colder air and potentially heavy snow moving into southern Alberta. Progs are hinting at a snowstorm for Calgary by Friday, and then another more widespread snowstorm for southern AB by Sunday. Eventually, this colder airmass will be spreading east over southern MB by early next week,  with temperatures dropping to below normal values for much of next week. In addition, we could even be seeing some snowfall here in southern MB by mid week next week as this colder airmass moves over the province. So don’t put away that winter gear just yet.. winter is still lurking on the horizon!  

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wicked winds whip Winnipeg

Well those strong southerlies developed as expected Monday, with winds gusting up to 80 km/h up the Red River valley by afternoon. Those winds were whipping up areas of blowing dust throughout the city, thanks to leftover sand from roads and parking lots. Not a nice day to be bike riding unless you were heading north all day! Temperatures climbed up to 16C in Winnipeg, but were up to 25C over southwest MB near the SK border (Melita, Virden, etc) Winds will remain strong in the Red River valley through the night, especially this evening. The gusty south winds will make for a very mild night with an overnight low of only 11c. A cold front will push through Winnipeg by Tuesday afternoon but not before we climb to the 20C mark by midday. Cooler temperatures and a chance of showers will move in by Tuesday evening behind the cold front.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Big warmup for early next week

Long range models continue to indicate a major push of warm air moving into southern MB early next week, with highs of 23C now predicted for Winnipeg for Monday. The warm airmass will be accompanied by strong southerly winds on Monday, especially through the Red River valley where southerly winds of 50-70 km/h are likely. Often in these situations, those southerly winds will keep temperatures down somewhat in Winnipeg, perhaps in the mid to upper teens instead, while areas to the southwest (Brandon, Portage, Morden) have a better chance of breaking the 20C mark. (For the record, the record high for Winnipeg on Monday is 29C back in 1958) Winnipeg may actually have a better chance of breaking the 20C mark on Tuesday when our winds shift into the west as a weak trof moves through. Whatever the case.. looks like some nice warm weather coming in for a couple days next week!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Strong storm to affect North Dakota/Minnesota by Friday

A strong spring storm system over the southern US plains this morning will track north towards Iowa by Friday bringing a wide swath of stormy weather to our south over the next 48 hours. Fortunately for southern MB, this system will stay to our south and is not expected to affect us, but will be a factor for our neighbours in North Dakota and Minnesota. This system spawned numerous severe thunderstorms across Texas and Oklahoma Wednesday with several tornadoes reported. As this system moves north, colder air will wrap behind the system and start producing an area of heavy snow on the north and northwest flank of the storm Thursday night into Friday. Heavy snow from this system will likely affect southeast ND through northern Minnesota with 6-15" of new snow possible by Friday night. This comes on the heels of another major storm just last weekend that produced over 2 feet of snow in virtually the same area. And you thought our spring was slow to arrive! Winter storm warnings are in effect from Colorado to Minnesota due to this intensifying storm, and the National Weather Service has even issued a rare blizzard warning for the Duluth area, very unusual for April, due to the expected heavy snow and strong northeast winds off Lake Superior.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Spring has sprung!

Beautiful day out there.. and more of the same over the next couple of days with sunshine and temperatures in the double digits. Now that we have finally lost our snowcover, that April sun will be able to heat up the land and air a lot quicker, giving us some nice springlike weather through Thursday. Things may get a little cloudier and wetter by the end of the week however as another major storm system tracks through Minnesota by Friday. This system may bring yet another round of heavy snow to portions of North Dakota and northern Minnesota by the weekend! Let's hope it doesn't edge further north!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Winter Storm Watch Issued for Grand Forks/Nrn Minnesota

A winter storm watch has been issued for eastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota for this weekend, south of a line from Grand Forks to Lake of the Woods. A storm system over the northern Rockies Friday will move across the Dakotas over the weekend, bringing a swath of heavy snow across portions of eastern ND and northern MN Saturday night before moving into NW Ontario Sunday. 10-20 cm of snow is possible in the watch area as well as northwestern Ontario between Kenora and Thunder Bay. People planning on travel this weekend south and east of Manitoba should be prepared for possible poor driving conditions as this storm system develops.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nice today.. colder Friday

Should be a nice day today with partly sunny skies and a mild westerly breeze pushing temperatures close to the 10 degree mark this afternoon over southern Manitoba, especially over snowfree areas. But the mild weather will be short lived as an Arctic airmass over northern MB pushes south on Friday. A sharp cold front is marking the leading edge of this airmass which is producing very cold temperatures of -20 to -30C over northern MB today. This cold front will push through central MB this evening and southern MB on Friday, although the core of the cold air will stay over the north as the cold front weakens somewhat. Nonetheless, I don't expect temperatures to climb much above freezing Friday over most of southern MB, along with occasional light snow as the colder air moves in.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Format changes to Rob's Obs

I made a few changes to my main website today. The main change is the addition of a new drop down menu that replaces the older clunky one I had (thanks Daniel for the script) The drop down menu is a little more organized than before, with some new menu links including "CURRENT OBS", "SIG WX" and "PRECIP". Radar menu is dropped in favour of just clicking on the radar image to get to the new and improved radar page. "CURRENT OBS" displays latest observations from weather stations across southern MB and elsewhere (see "LATEST OBS" page for a quick overall summary) "PRECIP" menu will link you to all pages related to precipitation and rainfall. See the PRECIP PAGE link to get the local weather stations rainfall readings that used to be displayed on my previous layout. Also, I've replaced the Weatherbonk temperature plot with a new local temperature map (from Gorilla Wx)

Hopefully you find these changes an improvement to the site, especially for site navigation. Comments welcome. I've noticed the new drop down menu has a little time lag before it downloads (don't know why), so be patient for it. If you prefer the old layout, you can still access it at