Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Coldest April In Over a Century - Stats Unveiled

     It was an April many people on the Prairies wont soon forget. It was exceptional in so many ways with many incredible records broken or challenged. The winter that seems to drag on and on is in stark contrast to last year when it seemed winter had never really started. More than anything, it goes to show how variable a climate we live in.

     In Winnipeg, April 2013 tied with 1907 for third coldest April on record since 1872 with an average mean of -2.1°C, a whopping 6.6 degrees below normal. That's also just 3.7 degrees warmer than the March normal! Truth is, it would have been the coldest if it wasn't for that wonderful warmup we had last weekend...

     It was a similar story across Saskatchewan and the rest of Manitoba with several communities recording a top 3 coldest April. Here's how April ranked in a few select communities across the Prairies: (click map to enlarge)

     Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, it was the coldest April on record in Brandon since records there began in 1890. The average mean of -3.5°C breaks the old record by a large margin; 0.6 degrees (-2.9°C in 1893)! This comes on the heels of the 11th coldest March. This will surely become one of, or the coldest springs ever for the Wheat City.

     The hype about April was not how extreme the cold was, instead it was its length that was most noteworthy. Not one single daily temperature record was broken in Winnipeg. Daytime highs in Winnipeg were consistently between -5°C and 4°C up to the 24th when we finally reached 5°C for the first time this year. This marked the latest date on record to hit +5°C for the first time in a year, breaking the old record by more than a week!! However, we did not see a noteable warmup until the last weekend of the month when temperatures finally reached double digits by the 26th. That marked yet another incredible milestone in this historical month; the second latest date on record to hit 10°C for the first time in a year.

     April 26th also put an end to a mind-boggling 47-consecutive day streak with below normal temperatures.

     Thanks to the last minute warm spell late month, we recorded 7 days above 5°C for April. That ties for second least amount of days in April with a daytime high at or above 5°C. Normal is 23 days!

     The monthly low was -20.2°C on April 9. That's the coldest April night since 1997 and also tied for third latest -20°C reading on record in a year. Latest -20°C reading was April 12, 1881. It's also only the 12th -20°C reading in April in the last half-century.

     However, temperatures weren't the only story this month! To many, it seemed as though the winter snow pack would never leave... and it was especially because of this record snow pack that April was so cold across the Prairies. Here in Winnipeg, we had the deepest winter snow pack for so late in the season on 4 occasions (April 22, 23, 24 and 25). The average depth for the month was 24.7 cm, second deepest on record and well-above the normal of 2 cm.

     You probably don't need me to tell you that this was a lonnnng winter. But there was yet another amazing record which we almost broke. The winter snow pack this winter lasted a total of 168 days (or 46% of an entire year!), third longest lasting winter snow pack on record since 1955:

     One more statistic that I find worth mentioning to you...

     With the winter snow pack not reaching a depth of a trace until April 27, that makes it the latest date on record for the winter snowpack to reach a trace cm.

      Precipitation was generally very normal in April. However, we did not get a single drop of rain until April 29 in Winnipeg, when a rather vigorous clipper system moved through the Prairies. It dumped 15-25 mm of rainfall over the city; an entire month's worth! The system also dumped over 30 cm of snowfall over western, central and northeastern Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan; bad news for the flood situation. The spring flood this spring is one of the latest in history.

     The late month system also brought the season's first thunderstorms to southern Manitoba on April 30. The storm season, as expected, is beginning much later than in recent years. In 2010 and 2011 we had already seen our first storms by early April, and in 2012 it was in March.

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