Friday, 1 March 2013

February 2013 at a Glance

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     The month as a whole was largely featureless for Winnipeg with little in the way of snowfall and extreme temperatures. It seemed as though winter had been tamed after a frigid end to a very snowy January. Although numerous clipper systems clipped southern Manitoba during the first two thirds of the month, most only dropped light flurries in Winnipeg. Only a couple dumped a decent accumulation. On February 4, a general 4-6 cm fell over the city. Later in the month, on the 17th and 18th, an intense Alberta Clipper brought the wildest weather of the month. As for temperatures, after a frigid first couple days, temperatures straightened out to near normal for the majority of the remainder of the month with little in the way of extremes. February also marked the 5th consecutive colder than normal month.

     A vigorous system on Feb 17 and 18 left a mark on southern Manitoba. What began as mild temperatures and freezing rain and ice pellets on the 17th quickly turned into an all-out blizzard during the night into the 18th. The worst hit areas were south of Winnipeg where winds over 60 km/h and gusts over 80 km/h combined with the heaviest snowfall in southern Manitoba to create absolute whiteout conditions. A general 4 to 7 cm of snow fell over Winnipeg, while 10-15 cm fell south and east of the city. Winds weren't as strong in Winnipeg with sustained winds over 50 and gusts over 70 km/h, but that was certainly enough to create severe blowing snow. Numerous highways were shut down across southern Manitoba including the Trans-Canada, Hwy 75 and 16. There were even a few power outages in and out of Winnipeg for a few hours. Dozens of crashes occurred on the highways thanks to the blizzard-conditions as well as the icy conditions thanks to freezing rain the day before. A 54-year old man died after being stranded in the ditch near Landmark. A full summary of the event can be seen here.

     The weather straightened out behind the blizzard with not a snowflake nor raindrop recorded for the remainder of the month. Sunshine became abundant and temperatures rose after a short 2-day cold spell behind the storm. They remained at or above seasonal for the remainder of the month. All of a sudden, after being hit one by one by clipper systems for most of the winter, we were now experiencing relatively pleasant conditions with melting snow on concrete surfaces. This made for quite the slippery mess when the water and slush on roadways froze during the night. However, this is a challenge we must face every year as the sun gets stronger.

     In the end, the airport did not reach or exceed the freezing mark this February. This is actually unusual considering that the normal for February is 5 days of temperatures at or above zero (1981-2010 normal).

     Although 8.6 cm was the official measurement for Winnipeg this month, I measured just over 11 cm this month at my station in south St. Vital. Snow depth at both my station and in Charleswood hovered around 40 cm for the entirety of the month. At my place, drifts of 50 to 60 cm exceeded 70 cm after the Feb 18 blizzard. A maximum drift depth of 76 cm on the 18th was the deepest I have measured since I began measuring in 2009.

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