Sunday, 6 January 2013

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

2012, a Tale of Warmth

     Several milestones were set in 2012 when it comes to warm weather in Winnipeg and in much of North America.

     Here in Winnipeg, and for southern Manitoba in general, a long warm spell began in mid 2011, and continued through almost ¾ of 2012. This featured a full 15 consecutive warmer than normal months; a streak that began in June 2011 and ended after August 2012 (using the 1981-2010 normals). Numerous milestones were highlighted during these 15 months:

Jul 2011 .....  second highest humidex ever (47.2 on Jul 19, only 0.1 away from record of 47.3 in 2007)
Aug 2011 ....  hottest day since 1995 (37.2°C on Aug 23)
Sep 2011 ....  4 consecutive days above 30°C, tying for longest streak ever in September
Oct 2011 ....  all-time hottest October day (31.1°C on Oct 5)
Nov 2011 ....  9.7°C on Nov 24, 3rd latest that we've hit a temperature as warm or warmer
Dec 2011 ....  rare brown Christmas over much of southern Manitoba
Jan 2012 ....  3rd warmest January, and 6.7°C on Jan 5 was 3rd warmest January day ever
Feb 2012 ....  4th warmest winter
Mar 2012 ....  warmest March ever and at least 22 warm temperature records broken
May 2012 ....  2nd warmest spring
Jul 2012 .....  5th hottest July
Aug 2012 ....  tied 10th hottest summer

     In the end, 2012 had an average mean temperature of 4.56°C, a little over 1.5 degrees above the 1981-2010 normal and 5th warmest year since 1873.

     The only reason that 2012 wasn't even warmer in the record books is due to a cold finish from October to December. In fact, all the way up to October, 2012 was actually running as the warmest. This occurred for 3 consecutive months. In other words, 2012 featured the warmest January to August period, January to September period and January to October period.

     And if you think those were enough records to break, you'll be surprised by this next record!

     In 2012, we broke the record for the warmest 12-month period, a record which stood for 135 years (5.61°C from Dec 1877 to Nov 1878)! And... we didn't just beat that record once, we beat it 7 times! The warmest of these, from August 2011 to July 2012, will now be known as the warmest 12 month period with an average mean temperature of 6.02°C. Records for these date back to 1873.

     The records don't end there!

     The coldest temperature in 2012 was a measly -29.0°C on December 24. This is the first time that the airport has not hit -30°C in a calendar year since records have been taken there in 1938. In addition, this is only the second time that the city has not hit -30°C since 1872 (I make the distinction between both because prior to 1938, temperatures were taken close to downtown and not at the airport). The last time we didn't hit -30°C in a year was in 1931 with a yearly minimum of -29.4°C. That means 2012's yearly minimum of -29.0°C is also the warmest yearly minimum on record.

     We have now been 681 consecutive days without hitting -30°C (including today Jan 6, 2013). However, this is still not long enough to break the old record of 714 days from Feb 15, 1930 to Jan 29, 1932 (almost a full 2 years!).

Pic by Kristina Fickes, Environment Canada
     Similar records were broken across Canada and the United States. Across Canada, July was the hottest month on record and the period of August 2011 to July 2012 was the warmest 12-month period for the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence area and the entire Prairies. All the warmth caused the Great Lakes to be at some of their warmest water temperatures ever. Lake Superior was 8°C above normal in mid-August. The water temperature of Lake Ontario peaked at 24°C while Lake Erie peaked at 27°C; tropical! Algal-blooms were an issue on the lakes as a result.

     In the contiguous United States, July was also the hottest month ever, even beating July 1936! Similarly to Canada, August 2011 to July 2012 was the warmest 12-month period since 1895. The average mean temperature was 56.1°F (13.4°C) beating the old record of 55.5°F (13.1°C) from November 1999 to October 2000. In addition, the January to July period was the warmest on record with an average mean temperature of 56.4°F (13.6°C). This easily beat the old record of 54.5°F (12.5°C) in 1998.

     2012 was also the hottest year ever in the contiguous United States, and by a huge margin. Details here.

This post contains information, photos or video from the following sources:

Jeff Master's WunderBlog
Rob's Blog
Environment Canada Weatheroffice and Top 10 weather events of 2012


  1. Hope to have number 2 by tomorrow, otherwise Wednesday... Number 1 may not be until the weekend depending on how busy I am this week. Sorry for the inconvenience, I'm thinking of starting a little earlier next year to avoid having this drag on this way.

    As for the forecast, looks like some snowfall tomorrow with 2-5 cm likely in the city. Temperatures will be in the high single digits and approach zero, so it will certainly be quite slushy on the roads. Strong winds will reduce visibility as well.

    Another shot at above zero temperatures coming up Thursday. More snow likely Friday however it is still a little too far for specifics considering the variety of solutions the models are providing right now. Big cool down starting this coming weekend. Unknown at this point how long it will last but it could be a while. Stay tuned...

  2. Number 2 will be ready later today, thankfully. Number 1 will have to wait for the weekend as it looks like we may have a winter storm on our hands around Friday that I will have to give updates for.