Thursday, 1 March 2012

Winter 2011/2012, the Winter That Never Was?

     Well, it's finally March :) Although, it has felt more like March already since November!

     This winter was honestly one of the strangest winters ever across much of Canada. And has that ever been true in southern Manitoba.

     In Winnipeg, December was the 9th mildest on record, January was the 3rd mildest and February was the 14th mildest. As a result, with an average mean temperature of -9.7°C, winter 2011/2012 was the 4th mildest winter on record in the city, since records began in 1873. February also marked the 8th consecutive month above normal, a streak which began in July.

Top 5 warmest winters (mean temperature)
1. -7.2°C 1877/1878
2. -8.2°C 1997/1998
3. -9.5°C 1986/1987
4. -9.7°C 2011/2012
5. -10.1°C 1930/1931

     Here are the details of the winter:
     Despite technically being in a La Nina, a strong AO kept arctic air bottled up north throughout most of the winter. Mild Pacific flows of air were frequent as a result. 20 days from December to February saw temperatures above zero, above the normal of 10 days. That was quite meager in comparison to surrounding towns. For instance, Morden saw 41 days with above zero temperatures!

Biking in January
     Early January was especially startling with a week of temperatures not even dropping below -10°C. Temperatures were as much as 20°C above normal on some days, and that lasted for just over a week. January 5 was the highlight of the winter with temperatures reaching double digits across much of the western Red River Valley. Many all-time January high records were challenged that day, although not reached. Winnipeg's high of 6.7°C was just shy of the all-time January high of 7.8°C.
     We did not reach -30°C once this winter in Winnipeg, only the second time that has occurred since 1873. The coldest temperature was a measly -28.9°C, the warmest winter minimum on record.

     Another highlight of the winter was Christmas. It was a rare brown Christmas for much of southwestern Manitoba and the western/southern RRV. It was not officially a brown Christmas in Winnipeg, although snow depth was just 2 cm. It was the first brown Christmas in southern Manitoba since 1997. In WPG, since 1955 only 7 Christmases have had 3 cm of snow or less on the ground.

     Snowfalls were hard to come by this winter. At least, that was the case until late February when 4 systems dumped almost 20 cm over the city in about a week. December was the 9th least snowy December on record. From December to February, 44.2 cm of snow fell in the city, slightly below the normal 57.1 cm, therefore not overly significant. Although, melting was frequent, explaining why snow depth was so minimal. It certainly isn't every winter that you can see grass in January and February!
Christmas in Emerson


  1. Intense band of snow shaping up between the city and the US Border this evening with radar showing snowfall rates of 1-2 cm/hour. Could be getting some periods of heavy snow later this evening and overnight. 5-10 cm is certainly possible, and even likely, tonight and tomorrow, even in the city. Have to wait and see how heavy the snow actually is.

  2. Very wet snow. 1 cm so far here this evening.

  3. 10 cm here at my place in south end as of 9:15 AM. Very wet snow indeed, so careful shovelling. Definitely a more heavier snowfall than anyone had expected. These setups are often difficult to predict. Another 2-5 cm expected today, so total amounts for this storm could be 10-15 cm in the Winnipeg area by tonight.

  4. Boy, what a storm! About 12 cm here at my place in south end so far, and drifts are over 2 feet in some spots, especially in more open areas. Has winter ever made a comeback!

    This system has been a nightmare forecasting-wise. No one that I know of saw this big a storm coming. Snow is still falling this afternoon, and will continue this evening. Yet another 2-5 cm is possible before all is finished. The wrap-around snow just doesn't want to move out of our area.. Heavy bands keep popping up, giving locally heavier amounts.

    15-20 cm reported to the southwest of the city so far.

    I helped shovel someone's car out of a pile of snow at the entrance of our back lane this afternoon after the snowplow passed and left a massive pile of snow right in front. Turned out the driver was visiting from Vancouver today, and has rarely ever driven in snow! Lucky her to have come here today! ;)

  5. Next Clipper is tomorrow and Tuesday. Looks like most of the snow will stay to our north in the Interlake with 5-10 cm possible there. We should just see a couple cm at most, but it will be a close call.

  6. Still appears the snow will stay to our north in general. There will be some snow today thanks to a warm front with 1-3 cm possible, though the main event tonight and tomorrow looks to stay mainly over the Interlake. 10-20 cm is possible there, snowfall warnings already in effect for Dauphin.

    If the storm tracks just a little further south than expected, then we could see some more snow in the city, though we will have to wait and see.

  7. Get ready for a big warm-up starting Friday and Saturday. Looks like it will stick around for a while too, so spring is sure coming :) Looks like our snow pack will be gone very soon!

    Current indications are for temperatures in the mid single digits this coming weekend, with temperatures approaching 10 C next week, and that includes most of southern Manitoba. Wether or not we manage to get to 10 C next week will depend on how fast this snow melts. Looking foreward to this warm-up :)

  8. Prepare to hold on to your hats! Going to be a very windy day tomorrow, coming from the NW at 40 to 60 km/h. That forecast high of -4 to -7 C tomorrow will definitely feel a lot cooler. It will be windiest in the afternoon with diminishing winds by sunset.

  9. Another very windy day today expected, except today winds will be southerly. A warm front today will also usher in a few flurries, though nothing significant. Some blowing snow is possible, so keep that in mind if you're travelling today

    If you like the cold, enjoy today, because it will very warm from now on, starting tomorrow. We likely wont see temperatures near -10°C and colder for a while... :)