Monday, 31 December 2012

#9 - Top Ten Weather Events of 2012 in the Winnipeg Area

May's Wild Thunderstorms

     In southern Manitoba, May was quite a month for thunderstorm-lovers with many convective events; most notably on May 14, 18, 22/23 and 27.

Little rain, just blowing dust. By BobLedoux near Ft Whyte
     A cold front moving across southern Manitoba in the evening on May 14 sparked off thunderstorms, despite a great lack of humidity. This lack of humidity, with surface dewpoints generally in the low single digits, was the perfect recipe for a severe wind event thanks to ''evaporative cooling''. (Definition of evaporative cooling here)

     The thunderstorms dropped very little rain, but brought severe gusts of wind and interesting cloud formations. Sudden gusts of 80 to 100 km/h were common across the RRV, with a maximum of 85 km/h at Winnipeg airport with the first cell to move through the city. Some regions were hit repeatedly as several cells formed one after another. In addition, they actually formed a bit ahead of the main front, meaning we had to contend with another round of severe wind with the front itself later in the evening. Winnipeg airport recorded a gust of 93 km/h with the front, after the storms. Some trees and even semi-trailers were toppled, and there were numerous power outages in many communities throughout southern Manitoba. Most outages were restored quickly, except for a few regions north of Portage such as St. Ambroise, which lost power for several hours after the storms. The winds were also blamed for a wall collapse at the construction site of Winnipeg's new football stadium.

Photo by Hannah Shiffman via CBC Manitoba
     Thanks to very dry soil conditions, the winds also produced dust storms, a rarity in southern Manitoba. Near zero-visibility in blowing clouds of dust was seen locally in rural areas. According to The Weather Network, some callers to their storm line said they had to pull over as visibility reached near zero in blowing dust and dirt. The following day, some farmers even woke up to ''dirt drifts'' in their fields. Within Winnipeg, blowing dust was mainly seen in open areas and northern parts of the city.

     These storms claimed one life on Lake Manitoba. Two men were out fishing on the lake when the wind hit with little warning. The strong winds and heavy waves overturned their boat. One man made it to shore, while the second was swept away by the waves. Searchers combed the area for several days afterwards for his body, finding it on May 23, 11 km away from the location of the capsize.

     (*Here's a list of videos I find give a great idea of the conditions felt on May 14: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3*)

     On the evening of May 18, a retreating warm front was the cause of another thunderstorm outbreak in the RRV and southeastern Manitoba. Of note, there was a very tight temperature gradient with this front. At 5 PM, while it was only 15°C in Minot, it was 35°C in Fargo.

Storm resembled flying saucer. By Rebecca Schleicher
     Lines of thunderstorms formed just west and southwest of Winnipeg by 7:30 PM and swept through the city between 8 and 9:15 PM. The storms trained over western, central and northern sections of the city, giving long-lasting torrential downpours. A swath of 25-35 mm of rainfall fell through these parts, while only 5 to 10 mm fell in east, southeast and extreme northwest sections of the city. A peak rainfall rate of 133 mm per hour was recorded in Charleswood at 8:11 PM. In addition, hail as large as quarters fell in central and northern parts of the city, and lasted long enough to accumulate locally. Lightning was frequent, and the heavy rain flooded a few streets. The rain was blamed for an apartment roof collapse at the corner of Aikins Street and Atlantic Avenue. Residents were evacuated and there were no injuries. Some traffic and street lights lost power as well. These storms however were a blessing to the fire situation in southern Manitoba.

     (*Here's a list of my favourite videos of the thunderstorms on May 18: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, Video 4*)

Photo by John Kristalovich
     More strong thunderstorms made their appearance late on May 22 and early May 23. This time, the main story was the magnificent display of lightning in the RRV late evening and early overnight; definitely not something we see every May. Lightning was almost constant at times and there were many cloud-to-ground strokes. Rain in Winnipeg was not impressive with only a general 2 to 6 mm across the city. Heavier amounts of 10 to 20 mm fell to the east and northeast of the city, with locally higher amounts.

     (*Some awesome videos of the lightning May 22/23: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3*)

     Yet another round of storms drenched the Winnipeg area on May 27. A line of heavy elevated thunderstorms swept through the city near 6:30 PM, locally dumping a good 10 to 15 mm of rainfall in as little as 10 minutes. Lightning was not frequent. Storms continued on and off through the evening until about 9:30 PM. By the end of the day, in addition to showers earlier in the day, as much as 20 to 35 mm of rainfall had fallen in southern and northern parts of the city.

     All these storms along with some rain events in between brought monthly totals as high as 130 mm in parts of northern and western Winnipeg. This is more than double the normal of 57.4 mm for the month of May. However, amounts were lower in other parts of the city with as low as 85 mm in parts of the southern and eastern ends; areas that missed out on heavy rains on May 18 and 28. The 98.0 mm at the airport made it the 21st wettest May on record.

Flooding in Winnipeg May 18, by Charmaine Straker
 This post contains information, photos or videos from the following sources:

City of Winnipeg water and sewage department rainfall reports
CTV Winnipeg
CBC Manitoba
The Weather Network
Rob's Blog
Environment Canada Weatheroffice

Sunday, 30 December 2012

#10 - Top Ten Weather Events of 2012 in the Winnipeg Area

Cold September Nights

     Although daytime temperatures were only a few degrees below normal in Winnipeg on the coldest days in mid September, they fell quite rapidly at night. On a few days, the difference in temperature between night and day was more than 20 degrees! This may have been thanks to very dry soil conditions which helped accelerate heat loss from the ground at night.

     The growing season at the airport ended on September 14 with a low of -1.0°C, about a week earlier than normal (Sep 22). This puts the length of the 2012 growing season at 106 days, shorter than the normal of 121 days. Of note however, this value for 2012 is a little misleading considering the ideal growing conditions seen this year due to a very warm Spring. By using the number of days between hard frosts instead (hard frost is defined as a night of -2°C and colder) we get a season of 148 days for 2012 (Apr 27 to Sep 21 inclusively). That is much more representative of the conditions experienced this year.

Snow in Kenora Sep 21
     The coldest weather of the month moved in a week later. Snowflakes fell in northwestern Ontario and areas north of Winnipeg on the 21st (video of snow in Kenora). Here in Winnipeg, heavy hail fell in some parts of the city midday with the passage of a cold front. Behind this disturbance, an arctic airmass under a ridge of high pressure allowed for record low temperatures on September 23. A low of -7.1°C was recorded at the Winnipeg airport, breaking the 133 year old record of -6.1°C back in 1879. It was also the coldest September night in 47 years (-7.2°C on Sep 26, 1965), the 5th coldest September night ever and the second earliest of its kind for the season. Even The Forks dipped to the freezing mark (0.0°C) marking the end of the growing season for dowtown, about 2 weeks earlier than normal (Oct 5).

     The cold spots were Dugald at -9°C and Emerson and Fisher Branch at -8.5°C. Some official record low temperatures across the province included:

     Despite such a chilly start to the day, temperatures skyrocketed through the day with daytime highs in the high teens, seasonal for that time of year. Winnipeg reached a high of 17.2°C, a 24 degree rise from what it was early that morning!

     In total, 7 days had a low below zero in Winnipeg, tying for third most subfreezing days on record for September. Click here for a graph demonstrating the frequency of days with a subfreezing low in September since 1872.

This post contains pictures, videos or information from the following sources

The Weather Network
Environment Canada Weatheroffice

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Forecast Going Into The Christmas Holidays

     Today, well, we have ended up in a cloudy and somewhat snowy day once again. Well, it was nice seeing the sun for a bit yesterday at least ;) We shouldn't see too much snow however, with maximum 1 cm locally. Generally it looks to just be a dusting. Our temperatures will remain in the high minus teens through the day. Tomorrow, well it looks to at least start cloudy. We are expected to clear for the afternoon, but we will have to wait and see considering how the past few days have gone.

     For now, the Christmas week looks clear and cold for the entirety of the week with no major snowfalls expected. There may be a few flurries here and there, but nothing too organised is expected at this point. Good news if you have lots of travelling to do for the holidays. Also, as far as how cold it will get, right now it doesn't look like -30°C nights are in the cards as this next push of arctic air is not expected to be as severely frigid as it could be. However, we may come close with lows in the mid to low minus twenties and highs barely over -20°C on some days.

     This will be my last post until at least the 28th as I'll be taking a break to spend more time with family and friends these holidays. If needed, I will still provide a few comments under this post until the 24th.

     Happy Holidays!

Friday, 21 December 2012

2012 Severe Thunderstorm Season Across Canada

     First off, this is a yearly post related to the Manitoba thunderstorm season summary which I posted early in the Fall here. Similarly, I have been keeping stats on the Canada severe thunderstorm season since 2010.
     Now in this particular post, I will summarize the SEVERE thunderstorm season across Canada. The stats I gather are of severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings issued by Environment Canada. Everytime a warning of such sort is issued, I note down the day and place and gather all the stats at the end of the year. In addition, I also note all probable and confirmed tornadoes that actually touched down. There is a margin of error however. Sometimes, Environment Canada does make mistakes with issuing severe thunderstorm warnings. Some storms may actually be severe but have no warning on them; also the inverse sometimes occurs (a storm has a warning on it but never actually reached severe limits). However, there is nothing else I can personally do to eliminate this potential margin of error. Therefore, I content myself with just the warnings that EC does issue.
     Let's start with the length of the severe thunderstorm season per province in 2012, from west to east:

     The season began abnormally early in 2012 for the country as Ontario had their first bout of severe storms in mid March, 3 to 4 weeks earlier than in 2010 and 2011. Severe thunderstorms moved through the province on March 15, 17 and 18. Remarkably, even northern Ontario had severe thunderstorms on March 18. Tornado watches were even issued on March 15 in southwestern Ontario, due to the fact some tornadoes had touched down in Michigan. The exceptional warmth and humidity thanks to a jet stream that was much further north than usual was likely the culprit.

     The season was also longer in Saskatchewan and Alberta than it was in 2010 and 2011, starting a couple weeks earlier and ending a couple weeks later. 2012 also was Prince-Edward-Island's first severe thunderstorm in at least 3 years (there was none in 2010 and 2011).

     Now, as for the frequency of severe thunderstorm warnings per region in Canada in 2012, I have made a map for you all to make it easier to visualize which areas were most active:

     (Unfortunately, the way I have divided the country on this map is not perfect since the regions are not of equal size. I do plan to fix this problem in 2013.)

     With this map, it is easy to point out the most active regions; the western Prairies, northwestern Ontario and southeastern Québec. There are also other anomalies to point out however. Parts of southern Ontario were quieter than in the past 2 years, while BC was much more active. In fact, BC tripled the number of severe days seen in 2011 and saw 5 times more than in 2010.

     The biggest highlight however was the western Prairies. An unusually humid summer combined with a jet stream that was further north than usual brought frequent severe weather to Saskatchewan and Alberta. In Alberta, there was an amazing 54 days of severe thunderstorms throughout the year, 20-25 days more than in both 2010 and 2011.

     According to Environment Canada, it was the second busiest summer for severe thunderstorms in the Prairies since they've been keeping records in 1991. There were 371 severe thunderstorm events across the 3 Prairie provinces; Alberta saw a record number of 169 events while Saskatchewan saw its second highest number with 135 events. Of the 63 days between June 13 and August 14 only 11 days were free of severe weather.
     This year was also the second worst on record for hailstorms in the Prairies. In Alberta, it was a record year for crop losses. As for windstorms, it was also the second worst in the Prairies with 81 events of gusts of over 90 km/h. Again in Alberta, it was the worst year for windstorms with 41  events, breaking the old record of 37 events in 2007.
     Almost daily severe thunderstorms in Alberta in July brought serious flooding to some areas. The Edmonton region saw record rainfall for July. Stony Plain, a suburb west of Edmonton, received a total of 247.3 mm, the wettest July on record.

     Now, here's another map; this one showing the frequency of tornado warnings per region in Canada in 2012.

     Alberta and in particular Saskatchewan, saw numerous tornado warning events this season. Meanwhile, it was abnormally quiet for tornadoes in Manitoba and southwestern Ontario. Just 3 weak tornadoes were reported to Environment Canada in Manitoba, keeping in mind that none of these were actually confirmed. Saskatchewan however saw 33 tornado touchdowns, the highest amount ever in a single year for the province. Normally, Saskatchewan only sees about 13 tornadoes.

     Below is my last map; this one shows where all the probable and confirmed tornadoes occurred in Canada this season. This likely is an incomplete list; I don't have access to Environment Canada tornado reports. I use twitter, and media sources such as CTV, CBC and The weather network  for this data.

Inuvik, NWT tornado Jul 28
     The strongest confirmed tornado this season was an F2 near Storms Corner, Ontario on September 8. Unfortunately, Environment Canada has not, to my knowledge, rated all the tornadoes in western Canada. Only one F1 near Olds, Alberta on July 3 was confirmed.

     Notice that a tornado touched down all the way up near Inuvik, NWT. This occurred on July 28, and was certainly a surprise to those who saw it. Although it may seem unusual, tornadoes in NWT are not actually that rare. We just never hear about them, because most of the time no one ever sees them due to the low population density in the area. The strongest known tornado in the territory was an F2 wedge tornado in Yellowknife in 1978.

     The latest confirmed twister this year was a minor F0 near Mont-Laurier, Québec in the afternoon of October 31. It was one of the latest confirmed tornadoes on record. Some later confirmed tornadoes since the 1800's include: Nov 9, 2005 (Hamilton), Nov 16, 1989 (F2 near Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Québec), and Nov 1950 (Regina).

     And now to finish off, here's some links to some information on notable severe storm events this year:

1 - June 5/6 supercells in Alberta
2 - June 25 to 27 wicked thunderstorms in Saskatchewan
3 - Greg Johnson's collection of storm pictures 2012
4 - August 12 Calgary hailstorms
5 - July 23 eastern Ontario severe storms
6 - Hours of thunderstorms flood the Thunder Bay area in late May
7 - Montreal flooded after drenching thunderstorm May 29
8 - Heavy thunderstorms flood Edmonton early July 12

Some sources of the pictures and information I provided in this post:
The Weather Network
Environment Canada's Top 10 weather events of 2012

Friday, 14 December 2012

Snow Totals Past Few Days and Forecast

     A few rounds of snowfall brought some higher accumulations than expected to parts of southern Manitoba Wednesday and Thursday. Here are some snowfall totals for the two-day period: (note amounts come from reports to Rob's Blog, as well as Cocorahs therefore I don't have control over its accuracy)

Community Snowfall (cm)
Pinawa 15
Wpg Beach 14.5
NE of Portage 9.9
Woodlands 9.7
Morden 8.9
Morris 8.4
Emerson 8
Steinbach 7.2
Brandon 6.6

And in Winnipeg...
     Temperatures have warmed behind the snowfall with highs above normal today in the mid minus single digits. These milder temperatures will continue tomorrow with highs in the low minus single digits (-6 to -8°C). However, patchy fog, mist and freezing drizzle will be possible tonight and tomorrow before skies begin to brighten Sunday with the arrival of colder weather. Generally seasonal temperatures are expected to start next week, with a more organised snowfall possible mid-week (2-5 cm or so). At this point, below normal temperatures are expected after the snowfall, however no major cold outbreaks are expected in the near-future. I will provide updates in the comment section over the next few days.

UPDATE (5:30 PM) Dec 14: A special weather statement has been issued by Environment Canada for southwestern Manitoba and the western RRV regarding the likelihood of dense fog tonight. Watch out on the roads, especially highways if you have to venture out. Patchy freezing drizzle will be likely as well.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Snow And Cold

     It is snowing quite steadily in parts of the city today as well as to our south. Amounts will vary within Winnipeg since the city is right on the line between the heavier snow to the south and lighter snow to the north. The south end will likely have about 5 to 8 cm by the afternoon while northern parts will likely only see 2 to 5 cm. Higher amounts of 10 cm will have fallen south of the city with possibly as high as 15 cm near the US Border by this evening.

     Behind this things will be quite cold for a few days with nighttime lows in the -20's and highs in the low to mid minus teens. Brr! No major warmup to be seen in the near-future. A brief warmup to the low minus single digits with chances for snow around Wednesday next week, but it is expected to be quite brief.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Messy End to the Day Possible

     It may seem nice out there with the sunshine right now, but it could be a different story this evening. In addition, winds will be quite strong this afternoon with gusts to 70 km/h.

     It will be mild with highs approaching 0°C, especially this evening. A low pressure moving into central Manitoba, which will be giving central and northern Manitoba another blast of snowfall (10 to 20 cm), will also bring southern Manitoba some messy conditions this evening. Freezing rain is possible in all of southern Manitoba, therefore freezing rain warnings have been issued by Environment Canada for all of southern Manitoba except the Melita and Virden regions. Some areas may see a mm or two, while some may get just a couple sprinkles. It is hard to say right now since the area of precipitation hasn't formed yet. In addition, it is possible that the precipitation may fall as ice pellets instead.

     Nonotheless, it will likely be a messy evening.

     Cold weather will dominate the rest of the week into the weekend.

UPDATE: Here's a good article about the snowfall in northern Manitoba early this week. Up to 90 cm of snow fell in the Norway House-Island Lakes region in 24 hours, possibly making it the heaviest 24 hour snowfall on record in Manitoba. It's hard to confirm this due to the fact that the snowfall amounts are not official.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Fall 2012

Fall stats (Sep-Oct-Nov). CLICK to enlarge
     This Fall was a bit of a transition period; going from more than a year of warmer than normal months to colder than normal weather. It was the first colder than normal season since the Spring of 2011. With an average mean temperature of 3.5°C, it was also the coldest Fall in a decade, going back to 2002 when the average mean was 2.6°C.

     There were certainly a few notable cold events. A low of -25.5°C in late November was the coldest November low since 2007. In addition, the high temperature was a measly 4.9°C making it the coldest November maximum in almost two decades, going back to 1995. It was the first colder than normal November since 2003.

     October featured some early snowfall as a major Colorado Low dumped up to 30 cm on the 4th and 5th over southeastern Manitoba. It cut power to thousands. Winnipeg dodged the worst with just a couple cm, but it was the earliest accumulative snowfall since 1996.

Sep 30... 24°C
     September was near normal on average, but that does not tell the whole story. With 7 nights of freezing temperatures (below 0°C), it was the most in 3 decades, since 1984, and tied for 3rd most. A low of -7.1°C on the 23rd was the coldest in September in half a century, and the 5th coldest on record for the month. September wasn't all that bad however. There were brief glimpses of summer as temperatures on a few occasions approached 30°C. This included the last 2 days of the month, which featured near record-warmth. The heat coincided with the change of colours of the leaves making for a wonderful end to the month.

     As for precipitation, Fall also marked a transition period. October marked the first wetter than normal month since May, thanks to significant rainfall. The rain in October was much welcomed after the second driest September on record with just 4 mm of rainfall.

     November continued the new trend with snowier than normal weather; about 40 cm of the white stuff. This was mainly due to a significant snowstorm on the 10th and 11th which dumped between 20 and 25 cm over Winnipeg, with higher amounts to the west and north, as high as 65 cm in Mafeking and 37 cm in Portage.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Roller Coaster Ride

     A clipper system moving into central Manitoba brought quite a roller coaster ride to southern Manitoba today. The day started very mild with temperatures of 2 or 3°C. The system brought a brief band of steady rain to much of southern Manitoba this morning, dropping a good 1 to 3 mm in general. This is quite unusual for this time of year, and is the most rain in December since 2005.
     The system brought exceptional snowfall to central Manitoba today with 45 cm measured at Norway House and 20 cm in Mafeking (Mafeking is the town that saw 65 cm of snowfall on Nov 10). It's turning out to be a brutal winter in central Manitoba!

     Temperatures plummeted this afternoon and winds increased. Everything has frozen up, and snow and blowing snow have begun. It looks like these periods of snow and blowing snow will continue for the majority of the evening before things push out overnight. Temperatures which have fallen to near -10°C now will begin to stabilize with lows tonight in the high minus teens.

     Tomorrow will be cool with highs barely reaching -10°C. However, the cool down will be brief, as we go back up the roller coaster Wednesday with rising temperatures overnight through the day into the evening. We may get close to the freezing mark again. Again it will be brief as temperatures cool late week with the potential for some flurries Thursday.

     Beyond that things are uncertain right now as the stormy pattern continues into early next week when a more significant cool down will be possible.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

November 2012, Cold And Snowy

November 2012 stats, CLICK to enlarge
     November 2012 ended colder than normal, which is something that is long overdue. It marked the end of a streak of warmer than normal Novembers going back to 2003, our last colder than normal November, 9 years ago. The monthly high temperature was a measly 4.9°C, the lowest November maximum since 1995.

     Snowfall was another highlight with 40 cm of snowfall through the month, almost double the normal. This high amount was mainly due to a significant Colorado Low on Nov 10-11, and from multiple back-to-back clipper systems late month.

     The Colorado Low on Nov 10-11 was very significant. 20 to 30 cm of snowfall fell over the city, making it the most significant snowstorm since late December 2006. What is important to note however is how fast the snow came down. 10 to 15 cm of that fell in just a few hours in the evening of Nov 10 under blinding heavy snowfall. Even heavier amounts fell to the northwest of the city, with 37 cm in Portage, 40 to 60 cm in parts of the Interlake and 65 cm in Mafeking (western Manitoba).

     Other than that, gloomy skies were the trend of November. The month started cloudy or mostly cloudy day after day. The first mainly clear day was not until Nov 14, after almost a month of day after day of cloudy or mostly cloudy skies.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Variable Pattern the Next Few Days

     Today will mark the last cold day until next week as a southerly flow ahead of multiple clipper systems over the next few days ushers in warmer air.

     These multiple clipper systems will bring snowfall here and there. 3-5 cm of snowfall is expected in Winnipeg and for much of southern Manitoba later today into tonight. Winnipeg's snow should fall this evening into the overnight.

     After this clipper, another clipper system will follow right behind it for Friday into early Saturday. The bulk of the precipitation with this one will remain in central Manitoba where 5 to 10 cm is likely for the northern Interlake, and western and eastern Manitoba. There will likely still be some scattered flurries for southern Manitoba, especially along and north of the Trans-Canada but amounts should remain insignificant.

     A more significant low pressure system, potentially a Montana Low, will move in Sunday night into Monday. The storm will pull in lots of warm air ahead of it and cold air behind it. The result is an uncertain forecast for southern Manitoba, especially in the southeast. Temperatures near zero or even just above zero will make the precipitation phases and amounts difficult to predict. Freezing rain, ice pellets, rain will all be possible before the changeover to snow. Areas to the north and west in southwestern, western and central Manitoba could potentially see over 10 cm of snowfall with the system. Stay tuned for updates.

     Behind that low, things look cold Tuesday but there may a quick rebound mid week followed by another cool down late week. It's far to be certain and precise, but that's how it looks right now. It could be a bit of a roller coaster ride next week.

     Also of note, this November has become the first colder than normal November in 9 years (last colder than normal November was in 2003)!

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Photo by: Kirsten Binda

     A clipper system brought 4 cm of snowfall to Winnipeg yesterday in a period of a couple hours. Blowing snow was an issue causing severely reduced visibilities in and around the city. An additional 2.0 cm of snow fell overnight bringing the total for this system to 6 cm in the city.

     The bulk of the snow has ended for now, other than for the odd flurry or two this afternoon and evening. Another band of snowfall is expected tomorrow night. We're only expecting about 1 to 3 cm with it however, so it is not expected to be very significant. The main story will be the cold for the next few days as overnight lows dip close to -20°C tonight, and we could possibly even get as low as the mid minus twenties locally. Things wont warm much in the afternoon as highs remain in the minus teens. These cold temperatures are expected to continue until late week as another clipper system is expected to move in. Another couple cm will be possible with that.

     The way this month is going, this may be the first colder than normal November since 2003!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Mild For a Few Days

     Daytime highs are expected to rise above zero through most of southern Manitoba today thanks to brilliant sunshine and a southerly or southeasterly flow. Areas with minimal snowcover and heavily forested will warm the most, such as in southeastern Manitoba. Sprague, which doesn't have much snow on the ground, has already risen to 7°C as of 11 AM and only saw a morning low of -2°C. In Winnipeg, we are expected to reach about 1 or 2°C at the airport, but within city limits highs between 3 and 5°C are not out of the question locally. This will allow for some of this snow cover to melt.

     Mild weather is expected to continue Monday through to Wednesday with daytime highs above zero expected. Again warmest temperatures will remain in southeastern Manitoba and within the city limits of Winnipeg.

     Cooler and more unsettled weather is expected late week with the potential for some insignificant snowfall (appears to only be about 2-5 cm at this point) which will likely slicken roads again.

     Beyond that, no major prolonged cold outbreaks expected in the next 2 weeks.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Winter Blast Coming To a Close

     A series of major low pressure systems have pummelled the Prairies over the past few days, dumping a wide swath of 10 to 60 cm of snow. No major city escaped this blast of winter. Here are some amounts in the form of a map, showing amounts that have fallen since November 7. Note that some of this data has not been verified for accuracy; the amounts come from Environment Canada's storm summaries and some are from Rob's Blog.
CLICK TO ENLARGE. Data is courtesy of Environment Canada and Rob's Blog and amounts are as of late afternoon Nov 11
UPDATE Nov 12: Here's a story about the 65 cm of snowfall that fell in Mafeking.

Snowfall Totals

     Well what a storm it became for southern Manitoba last night. Here are some preliminary snowfall totals as of this morning, thanks to Rob's Blog, Cocorahs and Environment Canada:

     Note that more snowfall is still falling in some of these areas this morning, therefore amounts are getting higher as we speak. It has stopped in Winnipeg, but we will likely continue to get periods of light snow here and there today, tonight and Monday. An additional 2 to 5 cm is possible.

     Note also that the Trans Canada is closed all the way to Brandon. Travel is highly unrecommend today.

     Here's a timelapse of the snowfall in Portage la Prairie. 

     I will continue to update these snowfall totals today and Monday.

     Meanwhile, record low temperatures are felt in Alberta this morning with lows in the -20's and windchills in the low -30's!!  Some unofficial records include: Claresholm at -28.5°C and Coronation at -27.4°C! Brrr!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Exceptional Snowfall Imminent

     Winter storm and snowfall warnings cover all of southern Manitoba as a major winter storm approaches. Light snowfall has already begun in southwestern and western Manitoba. However, the real heavy snowfall is expected to move in later this evening and especially overnight. This snow is expected to last through much of Saturday. Upsloping winds will also offer enhanced snowfall amounts for the western RRV and especially into the Duck and Riding Mountains.

     Snowfall is expected to continue into Saturday night with lingering periods of snow expected Sunday. Lingering fluries are still possible Sunday night, but beyond that things look to improve.

     Totals for this system are expected to be in the 20 to 30 cm range for many areas, with localized amounts between 30 and 45 cm possible over the upsloping regions I mentioned above. A few 30+ cm amounts are still possible elsewhere however.

     The precipitation is expected to mix in with rain, freezing rain or ice pellets for the southern RRV and southeastern Manitoba as the warm part of the system just grazes us. Great uncertainty still lies on how far west this warm sector will go, therefore at this point it is hard to say if Winnipeg will be getting some of this mixed precipitation.

     Winds are expected to be strong unfortunately, but thankfully not to an exceptional level; sustained between 30 and 40 km/h with gusts of 50 km/h. Blowing snow will be an issue as a result.

     As far as records are concerned, it will be difficult for Winnipeg to break the daily snowfall record tomorrow, considering it lies at 31 cm back in 1919. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Potential Winter Storm

     The seasonal temperatures we have been seing will be coming to an end soon. A major Colorado Low is expected to develop over the next few days and bring heavy snowfall to the Prairies, including southern Manitoba and parts of northwestern Ontario by Sunday. Uncertainty on the track of the system exists as is usual in these types of systems. Just keep in mind that the potential is there for up to 30 cm of snow Friday through to early Sunday for all of southern Manitoba. Hopefully we'll have a better idea on specifically who gets this heaviest snow soon.

     Meanwhile, there will be the potential for a few lightning strikes this evening as a low pressure system moves through the province. Nothing significant expected, albeit the fact that lightning is unusual at this time of year. Lightning and thunder has already been reported near Winnipeg near 7:30 PM.

Stay tuned..

Sunday, 4 November 2012

2012 Southern Manitoba Thunderstorm Season In Perspective

     First, let me introduce you to this new yearly post. I've personally been keeping stats on thunderstorms in southern Manitoba since 2010. I note every single day that lightning was detected, using lightning detection products from The Weather Network, Environment Canada and Intellicast. I also keep track of when severe thunderstorm warnings were issued by Environment Canada to get stats on the severe thunderstorm season. To compliment this data, I also note in what part of southern Manitoba these events occurred. To do this, I have divided southern Manitoba into 6 regions: West, Southwest, South, Southeast, East and Interlake. Before reading further, I highly recommend that you check out where exactly I consider these 6 regions to be by checking out this map. With this map, you will know exactly where I am talking about and which region your city or town is.
     Now, let's look at the 2012 thunderstorm season, starting with its length:

     The thunderstorm season began earlier than normal; it typically does not begin until April for most areas (normals can be found here). This was in large part thanks to the unprecedented warmth we experienced in March as the jet stream rose way further north than usual. The mid-March start was also about a month earlier than in 2010 and 2011.
     It was a loud start as well. Thunderstorms on March 19 were widespread and dumped torrential downpours and gave frequent lightning. This event brought Winnipeg its earliest recorded thunderstorm on record.
     Now, how about the frequency of thunderstorms, severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings per region:

     Southwestern Manitoba was the 'stormiest' with 74 thunderstorms days and 19 days with severe thunderstorm warnings. This continues the trend of the past couple years as this region had the most in both 2010 and 2011 as well. For southern Manitoba as a whole, there were 34 severe thunderstorm warning days, much more than in 2011 when there were only 24. However, 2011 was abnormally less active. I do not have the actual numeric normal considering I only have 3 years of data.
     In the city of Winnipeg specifically, there were about 25 or 26 thunderstorm days in 2012, which is right around the normal of 27.
     Now, let's take the 109 thunderstorms days, 34 severe thunderstorm days and 2 tornado warning days in southern Manitoba as a whole and divide it monthly. Here's what we get:

     As per usual, June, July and August were the most active months of the year.
Arborg possible tornado June 16th by Kyle Kearney
     Tornado-wise, it was a very quiet year in Manitoba; intriguing when you consider that our western neighbour, Saskatchewan, had a record year for tornadoes.
     The only possible tornado to have touched down was in Arborg on June 16th. However, it was unconfirmed by Environment Canada. As a result, not one single tornado was confirmed in Manitoba this year. This is much below the normal of 7 to 10 tornadoes in Manitoba per year.

     To finish off, here's a couple notable thunderstorm events this year:

1-Swan River July 11 severe thunderstorms dump 77 mm of rain, causing severe flooding
2-Stormy May
3-July 29 windstorm
4-August 1 windstorm
5-July 25 Steinbach rainstorm dumps up to 111 mm of rain in a couple hours causing severe flooding
6-June 9 hailstorm

     I will have a country-wide severe thunderstorm season summary up in the next couple weeks.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Winnipeg Metro Dodges Bullet, But How Many More Will We Dodge?

     A swath of snow moved through southwestern and extreme southern Manitoba yesterday generally dumping between 2 and 15 cm. Luckily for the Winnipeg area, the snow remained to the south resulting in just a few flurries overnight which melted today. Here are some snow totals:

Brandon      11.6 cm
Winkler         6 cm
Portage        5 cm
Carman        3 cm
Winnipeg    0.4 cm

     Brandon was hard hit, here's a snapshot of how it looked like in the Wheat City today:

     Another swath of snow is expected to move into southwestern Manitoba tomorrow thanks to another clipper system. Again, at this point it looks like southeastern Manitoba including Winnipeg will likely dodge this one again, getting away with just a few flurries tomorrow night. 2 to 5 cm will be possible in southwestern Manitoba.

     Another clipper system is expected Monday into Monday night, and this one could be a little more pronounced for the Winnipeg area. A few cm of snow will be possible throughout southern Manitoba, with perhaps a cm or 2 around the city. However, there will also be the potential for some of the precipitation to fall as rain or freezing rain. Will have more details as the day gets closer.

     The big story of the week next week will be a potential significant storm system late week or next weekend. Models are already agreeing that a strong storm will form; now the question is just how far north it will extend, which will determine how much snow we get in Manitoba. This system could be significant with heavy snowfall over 15 cm and strong winds in some areas. It could spell the ''official'' start to winter as very cold air gets pumped south behind it. Stay tuned for updates on this potential potent system.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

October Ends the Warm And Dry Streak

October 2012 in numbers. CLICK to enlarge
    October marked the end of a streak of warmer than normal months in Winnipeg. Using the 1971-2000 normals (which are still considered official by Environment Canada), the streak ended with an unprecedented 15 consecutive warmer than normal months, going from July 2011 to September 2012. The month also broke a 4 month streak of drier than normal months with significantly above normal rainfall. With 57.5 mm of precipitation at the airport, it was the wettest October since 1998. However, this airport amount is actually suspiciously low, mainly due to its dry bias on the October 4-5 rain/snow storm. Practically every other station in the city received between 70 and 85 mm of precipitation through the month.

     One daily rainfall record was broken on the 23rd with 12.5 mm, breaking the old record of 7.6 mm in 1954.

     The biggest highlight of the month was a significant early season snowstorm from October 3rd to 5th which marked a brutal end to the summer-like weather we had experienced just days earlier. 20-30 cm of wet snowfall fell south and east of Winnipeg. This extremely wet and heavy snow caused many problems including widespread power outages and treacherous roads. Winnipeg was spared the worst with only about 2 cm of brief accumulation.

     The month ended quite gloomy with day after day of cloudy skies and light precipitation. It could have been worse however, considering that many Albertans endured a week and a half of below zero daytime highs and snow-covered ground, and while Sandy pounded eastern North America.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Looking A Little More Wintery; Warming Up Soon

    The Winnipeg area is looking a little more wintery today as we got a bit more snow last night. Northern, eastern and central parts of the city got the most with about 1 to 2 cm, while only a dusting (about 0.3 to 0.5 cm) fell in southern parts of the city. Temperatures wont rise much today as we stay in cloud for the day again, with highs likely not rising above the freezing mark.
     To our west, the heavy snow that fell in Saskatchewan and Alberta earlier this week has not melted too much in the last few days as you can see on this morning's snow depth map I've attached below, thanks to sub-zero temperatures day after day. Calgary has not risen to the freezing mark in a week now (last time above freezing was last Saturday). Not unprecedented, but certainly quite the cold snap for this time of year. Temperatures are expected to warm up for the Prairies beginning tomorrow in Alberta and gradually eastward. Above normal temperatures are expected in Manitoba next week. Normal highs by then for Winnipeg are about 6°C.

5 to 25 cm of snow still on the ground in central/western parts of SK and in AB

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Rainy With Chance of Thunderstorms

      Showers have been falling through the day already today throughout southern Manitoba. A general 5 to 10 mm has already fallen in south/southeast Manitoba, including 5 mm in both Winnipeg and Steinbach. Heavier amounts have fallen in southwestern Manitoba with 10 to 15 mm from Portage westward and southwestward. Rain will continue to fall through the rest of the afternoon and through part of the evening, ending from south to north, with an additional 5 to 15 mm likely.
     Thunderstorms are even making an appearance in southeastern Manitoba already this afternoon with numerous lightning strikes already seen in the Sprague area.

UPDATE (Oct 24 7 AM): The 12.5 mm of rain recorded at the airport yesterday broke a daily rainfall record. This breaks the old record of 7.6 mm back in 1954. This rainfall event also brings Winnipeg up to 56 mm of rainfall for the month so far, which puts this October at 21st rainiest so far. If we get some more rain in the next week then that rank will get even higher. Normal October rainfall is 33 mm (1981-2010 normals).

     The threat for thunderstorms will continue for this southeastern portion of the province through the rest of the day. A few lightning strikes cannot be ruled out around Winnipeg and through into the Interlake and eastern Manitoba, however it will be more isolated in these areas.

     Consider ourselves lucky as Saskatchewan and Alberta experience an early season snowstorm today. Widespread amounts of 5 to 15 cm have been reported already by this afternoon, with locally higher amounts such as about 25-30 cm in Lethbridge, Alberta!

This is how Lethbridge, Alberta looks today. Photo by Mimi Gonzalez, via The Weather Network

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Unsettled, But Remaining Mild For a Few More Days

     It will be a mild day today, especially if we can get a little bit of sun come out this afternoon. If the sun comes out, highs in the mid teens are a possibility, especially in southwestern Manitoba. Winds will be a little gusty however, from the south. Keep in mind normal highs are now about 9°C or 10°C.

     It will be a mild night tonight as more cloud cover moves in, and there will be a chance for showers. In fact, due to some higher amounts of instability expected along a front, a few thunderstorms will not be out of the question anywhere north of the Trans Canada. It looks like western Manitoba and the Interlake will have the best chance. This front is expected to move through Winnipeg early in the morning tomorrow. It wont cool things off too severely as highs are still expected to be in the low teens for much of southern Manitoba.

     It will remain mild in the low teens to start next week, but it will also remain quite unsettled. A band of rain is expected Monday night, with perhaps 5 to 10 mm of rain locally. Will have more details in the comment section below as the day gets closer.

     A pattern change is expected later in the week as a rather strong storm system affects the Prairies and Ontario. It is a little early for specifics on this system, but a major snowstorm is in the cards for parts of the Prairies late week. Things are expected to get quite frigid behind this system, but the uncertainty right now is how cold it will get, and how far south this cold air will get. Stay tuned..
Graph from Accuweather's Brett Anderson Canada Blog

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Enjoy The Warmer Weather While It Lasts!

     Temperatures are rising into the low teens over most of southern Manitoba today under plenty of sunshine, near normal for this time of year and making it the warmest day in 11 days.

     Things will only get warmer over the next couple days. Sunday will be similar to today in the low teens; perhaps a couple degrees warmer in some places. Monday and Tuesday look to be the warmest days with a nice southerly or southwesterly breeze. Some uncertainty exists on how warm it will get, mainly due to the potential for cloud cover. If we manage to get lots of sunshine, then highs approaching 20°C are possible. However, if we get stuck in cloud cover, which is what some models suggest, we may be stuck in the mid teens.

     At this point, it looks unsettled mid week as a possibly-strong low pressure system is expected to bring some rain to the Prairies. Just how much we will get here, well it's a bit too early to tell. What I can say however, is that snowfall does not look like a major threat.

     Beyond that, the weather looks normal at this point with up and down bounces in temperature and chances for precipitation. No major prolonged cold outbreaks, such as what we have been seeing the past 2 weeks, are expected in the near-future. Of course, if things change I will let you know.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Snowfall Roundup

In Richer, Manitoba. Taken by Dianne Benson
     An intense storm system formed over South Dakota Wednesday and tracked northeast into northwestern Ontario Thursday bringing large amounts of snow and rain. Over 30 mm of rain fell south and east of Winnipeg late Wednesday into early Thursday with about 5 to 10 mm in the city itself. Rain changed over to a heavy wet snow Thursday morning, with the heaviest being south, east and northeast of the city. Snowfall amounts of 5 to 20 cm were common by Friday morning, with up to 25 or 30 cm southeast of Steinbach and in northwestern Ontario. The extreme wetness of this snow made it difficult to shovel, but also caused widespread tree damage and left thousands without power east of Winnipeg when combined with a stiff north wind. Roads and highways were extremely treacherous, and snow plows were out plowing the highways. Incredible for this time of year! The snow provided much needed moisture to the drought-stricken southeastern Manitoba, giving a break from fires.
     Strong winds off Lake Winnipeg also pushed water onto Gimli streets.

Here are some snowfall reports up 10 AM Friday. Reports from Ontario are up to 4 PM Friday

Kenora . . . . . . . . 32 cm
Sandilands . . . . . 30 cm
La Broquerie . . . .27 cm
Red Lake . . . . . . 26 cm
Vita . . . . . . . . . . . 25 cm
Pinawa . . . . . . . . 22 cm
South Junction . . 20 cm (near Sprague)
Bissett . . . . . . . . .20 cm
Garson . . . . . . . . 15 cm
Richer . . . . . . . . .10 cm
Oakbank . . . . . . . . 9 cm
Dryden . . . . . . . . .  8 cm
Steinbach . . . . . . .  8 cm
St. Vital Wpg . . . . . 2 cm (my report - up to 3 PM Friday)

Winnipeg, Central Park on Friday. Taken by Suganthi Ramachandran

     Temperatures will remain cool for the next week with highs remaining in the single digits. We may hit 10°C Sunday, but other than that, not much in the way of double digit temperatures in the near-future. More rainfall and potentially a bit of snowfall looks likely Monday. Models hint at a warmup in about a week and a half, so don't lose hope that winter is here for good just yet!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Early Winter Wallop

Parts of southern Manitoba will be white like this soon
     Just under a week after we experienced near 30°C weather, winter is expected to make an incredibly-early return to southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario Thursday into Friday. An intense low-pressure system is currently forming south of the border in South Dakota and will move into northwestern Ontario tomorrow. A tight pressure gradient with this system will pull in very cold air from the north into the system, allowing for heavy precipitation amounts, both in the form of rain and snow.

     For tonight, most of the precipitation will remain in the form of rain for southern Manitoba, especially the further north and closer to the lakes you are. The heaviest amounts are expected to be south and east of Winnipeg with up to 30 mm of rain possible. Further west and north, rainfall will be lighter and not-so widespread. However, areas downwind of the lakes will get some enhanced precipitation, giving some higher amounts in those areas. Winnipeg is expected to get some lake-effect showers tonight as north/northeast winds blow off Lake Winnipeg.

     Tomorrow is uncertain still at this point, but tomorrow is also when things get very intriguing. Heavy precipitation is expected to move in again from the south and wrap around in southeastern Manitoba into Thursday night and to start Friday. Much of this is expected to be in the form of snow with upwards of 30 cm possible to the east of Winnipeg, especially in the Sprague area. In Winnipeg, at the moment it is expected that we will be on the western fringe of this band of snow, therefore we are expecting to receive lighter amounts. However, lake-enhanced precipitation may be an issue. Elevation-enhanced precip will also be possible along the Manitoba escarpment.

     However, uncertainty is strong at this point as some models (NAM/GFS) are still bringing over 20 cm for the city, while GEM is only giving about 5 cm. Keep up to date on this situation on Rob's Blog as I wont have much time to update over the next couple days.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Snow Potential - [Not Kidding!]

     It is beginning to look like our warm weather may end more viciously than anticipated a few days ago. A low is expected to form over the US rockies over the next 24 hours and move east/northeastwards. The question right now is just how far north and west this system will move, to determine how Manitoba will be impacted.

     The problem is that this system will bring in very cold air from the north, meaning that a lot of the precipitation to the northwest of the system's centre will likely be in the form of snowfall. And this snowfall is expected to be heavy, and significant accumulations are not out of the question. In addition, winds gusting over 50 km/h are likely, which would give serious travel problems. Due to many differences among the models, there is not much more I can say until later tomorrow. I can warn you however that you may need your shovels in the next 3 days... or maybe not! It will depend highly on the track of the system. Will keep a close eye!

Monday, 1 October 2012

September 2012 Continues a 15 Month Trend

September quick stats - click to enlarge
Drought-like conditions dominated
     September continued a trend 15 months in the making. The month averaged warmer and drier than normal. Drought-like conditions plagued not only us here, but also most of western Canada throughout the month. Here in Winnipeg, only 4.0 mm of rain fell, just 8% of normal putting September 2012 as the second driest on record. It was the 4th consecutive drier than normal month. It also makes it the 37th driest month in history. That may not seem like something of interest at first, until you consider that there are 1678 months of precipitation data.

Top 5 driest Septembers:
1.    1.3 mm    1948
2.    4.0 mm    2012
3.    6.1 mm    1938
4.    8.6 mm    1897
5.    9.9 mm    1976

     Another interesting note about September was the large diurnal temperature variations. While daily highs averaged 1.9°C above normal, daily lows averaged 1.3°C below normal and tied for 21st coldest. The average difference between day and night was 15.8 degrees when normally it is just 12.6 degrees.

     As a result, both record highs and record lows were seen. The month started hot with highs in the mid to high twenties, but then things began to change mid month. The growing season officially ended September 14, a week earlier than normal. But then even colder weather dominated the third week with several days of below zero overnight lows. Snow even fell in parts of northwestern Ontario. The morning of the 23rd was enough to be considered ''frigid'' to many as temperatures dipped well below the freezing mark. Winnipeg dipped to -7.1°C, making it the 5th coldest September night on record. It was also the coldest September night in 47 years. The coldest spot in the area was Dugald at -9°C.

     In total, 7 days had lows below zero during the month, tying for 3rd most on record for the month. The following is a diagram demonstrating the frequency of below zero nights in September since 1872, showing that the amount of below zero nights this September was in fact unusual:

      Only a week later, record daytime highs became the headline. Temperatures approached 30°C on the 29th and reached the low to mid twenties on the 28th and 30th. The hot and sunny weekend coinceded nicely with the peak of the colour change of the leaves, pehaps making it one of the nicest Fall weekends in a while.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Stunning Weekend

     I took some time to bike around the south end of the city today and take pictures of this absolutely stunning weekend. This warmth and sunshine coincides perfectly with the change of colours of the trees this Fall. Here's some of my favourite pictures I have taken this weekend. A couple were taken by my mother as well. Enjoy!

St Vital Park
St Vital Park
Along Bishop Grandin
Near Osborne Street, along the Red River
Street between Osborne Street and the BRT line
Taken by my mother on Saturday
Taken by my mother on Saturday
Seine River on Saturday
     ***If you wish to share some of these photos, please include a link to my blog, thank you!