Sunday, 8 January 2012

Top 10 Weather Events of 2011 - #1

#1 Our Seemingly Endless Summer    

A tale of sunshine

     After a wet and cool spring, the taps turned off in late June as the weather pattern began to change. A ridge in the jet stream centered over central-eastern North America kept things sunny, hot, and dry all summer over southern Manitoba. These ongoing conditions spelt severe drought. As far as outdoor enthusiasts were concerned, this summer was as good as it gets in Manitoba. As for farmers, it was a completely different story.

     The sudden turn from record flooding, to record drought was hard on many farmers. The soil had already dried out by late July. Crops began shutting down and turning yellow, and roots were not deep enough. What little they were able to seed in spring was barely surviving the summer. On the bright side, one seasoned-grower stated, ‘‘I could be receiving flood and drought insurance payments at the same time’’.
July rain % of normal
     July was the driest on record in Winnipeg with a measly 10.0 mm of rain, beating the previous driest July of 10.5 mm in 2006. Normal rainfall for July is about 70 mm, therefore we only received 14% of our normal rainfall. Other parts of the city received more or less what the airport received. About 20-25 mm fell in North Kildonan and East St. Paul, while just 8-10 mm fell along the south Perimeter.  The drought was more of a southern and south eastern Manitoba problem in July. Parts of south western Manitoba and the Interlake received over 50 mm of rain for the month.
     August was also very, very dry. Although, heavy thunderstorms on the 18th dumped 15-25 mm over the city and ensured that August would not be one of the driest on record. That rain event did very little to ease the drought though. The rain came down very fast and did not have enough time to soak into the ground. Hot temperatures in the mid to high thirties a few days later ensured that any moisture had quickly disappeared.
Lawns were parched this summer
     In Winnipeg, this summer (June, July, August) ended up being the 5th driest summer on record since 1873. Only 93.0 mm of rain fell, 40% of normal. From June 23 to August 18 (56 days), no daily rainfalls over 3 mm were recorded. In addition, it rained on only 4 Saturdays and Sundays out of 27, truly as good as it gets in Manitoba. Storms were consistently bypassing the south east, moving from Saskatchewan into the Interlake and North Dakota all summer. Even though we were in a drought, there was no shortage of water. Rivers and lakes were still flooding over nearby land after a record-breaking flood this spring. The driest summer ever was in 1929, with just 76.7 mm.
     After a generally seasonal June, the heat turned up a notch by the end of the month. In general, the heat stayed for the rest of the summer. The 3 month mean (JJA) of 19.5 C was 1 C above average, and tied for 17th hottest summer on record. 19 days saw temperatures over 30 C while 35 days saw temperatures over 28 C. The hottest summer on record was 1988 with an average mean temperature of 21.0 C.
     In addition, there were virtually no mosquitoes this summer. A cool spring followed by a very dry summer meant mosquitoes could not breed. In Winnipeg, this summer featured the lowest mosquito-count since 1980. We gladly passed on the title of mosquito-capital to Edmonton. Edmonton was swarmed with the worst mosquitoes in a decade, thanks to record rainfall in June and July.
     Rather than mosquitoes, wasps were the bigger problem this summer. They were a little more aggressive this summer since there was less food for them. The dryness was reducing the amount of flowers. They became aggressive searching for other sources of food. Pest Control businesses reported twice the amount of calls as the previous year.  

     Fire bans became the name of the game by early August. The provincial government banned all fires and burning in Eastern Manitoba and in many provincial parks, including the Whiteshell and Sandilands. Access to the back-country was also banned in some areas, to avoid fires sparked by ATVs, or other motorised vehicles. The ban was put into place after a small forest fire forced the evacuation of a campground in the Whiteshell. The fire rating was pushed to extreme, therefore we could not take chances. Any fire that develops would spread quickly, especially with wind, and would be hard to contain. Lightning was already sparking fires almost daily in the east, so the ban was put in hope that at least the amount of man-made fires could be reduced. The penalty for violating the ban was up to $1,000.
     Many communities, including the city of Winnipeg, issued their own bans to compliment the provincial ban which only affected provincial land.

     In the end, it was consistently hot, dry and mosquito-free all summer. Our seemingly endless summer will definitely be known as one of the most pleasant summers in recent memory.
Grand Beach /
Also with reference from :
Philips, D., Canada’s Top Ten Weather Stories for 2011. (2011): page 4, 7. Access 01/08/12 from < >

1 comment:

  1. And that's my top ten weather events of the year! Enjoy!
    Now as things get back to normal around here, I will try to start posting and commenting about current weather. And of course, I still plan to make monthly summaries of weather during the month. I'm definitely looking foreward to summer storms. Not too sure yet what I will do with that subject just yet.