Friday, 31 January 2014

A Frigid January by Modern Standards

     Despite being almost 4 degrees colder than normal, this past January was only tied 51st coldest since 1872. This highlights how much Januarys have warmed in the past several years. This January paled in comparison to Januarys in the late 1800's when a January like the one we just had would have been considered warmer than normal! However, it was the coldest since 2004 and 4th coldest since the 1980's.

     However, what is impressive this winter is how long the cold is lasting. With an average mean temperature of -20.5°C, this December-January period was the 14th coldest since 1872 and second coldest since 1893/1894. With cold weather expected to continue this February, it will interesting to see how the entire winter will rank...

     There were 12 days below -30°C this January, highest since 2004 when there were 15. Most impressive was 26 days below -20°C, tied 30th most and the most since 1982 when every single day dipped below -20°C.

     A low of -38.0°C on January 5 was the coldest since a -41.7°C reading in February 2007. In addition, the high was a measly -30.2°C for the day, the coldest daily high since January 2004.

     Snow was also a big story with a parade of clipper systems mid month. For 2 weeks, moderate snowfalls and blizzards occurred every couple days.

     Perhaps the most anomalous day was January 15 when a strong clipper system brought a mix of all weather to the Prairies. Record winds occurred in Alberta and Saskatchewan with gusts to 120 km/h in some cases. The winds weren't as strong in Manitoba, but gusts reached 80-100 km/h. Record high temperatures also occurred, including in Winnipeg with a high of 3.3°C. Even thundersnow was reported west of Winnipeg in the evening according to Brad from A Weather Moment, thanks to an unusually unstable atmosphere combined with a vigorous cold front. The high of 3.3°C in Winnipeg was an incredible warmup from a low of -27.4°C the same morning.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Awfully Cold Today; No Light at The End of The Tunnel

     We will struggle to rise much today with highs only reaching the mid -20's. This combined with winds of 20-30 km/h will produce awful wind chills today! Tomorrow wont be much better, albeit a tad milder but that will hard to notice.

     We warm up to potentially the minus single digits on Wednesday... only to be smacked by another cold front later in the day with strong northwest winds and plummeting temperatures. Some light snow is possible on Wednesday, but significant accumulations, if any, are not expected.

     Unfortunately, there is NO light at the end of the tunnel right now. Long range models have locked into a never-ending cold spell lasting well into February. Probabilities of below normal temperatures have reached nearly 100% as seen in the NAEFS model image below. We haven't seen this much confidence since December.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Parade of Systems Continues

     The same old weather pattern continues for the next few days with many opportunities for snowfall, blowing snow and frigid temperatures.

     The pattern has been incredibly consistent for several weeks now with a very deep trough in the jet stream in eastern North America and a very large ridge over the western continent. This can be seen in the image directly below: (Manitoba is highlighted in yellow) (this is a map from yesterday evening and is by ENVIRONMENT CANADA)

Approximate location of jet stream yesterday evening. Manitoba is highlighted in yellow. Highly amplified jet stream.

     This highly amplified jet stream has been bringing some interesting anomalies. Parts of the Yukon is warmer than Florida this morning. Haines Junction Yukon was sitting at 13°C at 6 am local time this morning which was warmer than Orlando Florida's 7°C.

     This pattern has maintained a northerly-northwesterly flow over Manitoba lately and has put us in a prime position for many clipper systems.

     Another round of snow is expected tonight. However, this is actually associated with a system all the way up in Hudson Bay. A general 3-5 cm is expected in the Winnipeg area, with highest amounts most likely to our east. The biggest story will be the wind with blowing snow expected this evening.

     Some more snow is expected again tomorrow, albeit lighter with a couple cm not out of the question. Strong winds in the afternoon will create blowing snow in open areas again.

     A clipper system is then expected on Saturday night with another 2-5 cm not out of the question. However, this will depend on the exact track of the system. Very strong winds on Sunday will likely create another blowing snow situation.

     At this point, a very cold start to the work week is expected next week and there is still no sign of a prolonged period of above normal temperatures. The general ups and downs are expected to continue.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

What a System!

     A clipper system which came all the way from Yukon brought a bout of significant weather to the Prairies yesterday and today.

     To begin with, the system brought record winds and high temperatures to Saskatchewan and Alberta Wednesday morning. Edmonton Int'l saw a peak gust of 106 km/h, the strongest gust ever recorded in January. Old record was a gust of 105 km/h on January 8, 1967. Even more impressive, wind gusts reached 120 km/h at the Edmonton municipal airport near downtown, which was not only the strongest ever in January but also an all-time record for any time of the year! Old record there was 117 km/h on June 6, 1960.

     Same story in Saskatchewan, where wind gusts reached 115 km/h in Saskatoon, the strongest ever recorded in January as well in the city. Old record was 111 km/h in 1986.

     Although not as strong, wind gusts of 80 to 100 km/h were recorded in southern Manitoba yesterday afternoon and evening. Peak gust was 104 km/h in Portage la Prairie, not a record. Winds in Winnipeg reached 80-85 km/h before midnight and behind the cold front.

     Here's a list of maximum wind gusts yesterday and today in the 3 Prairies provinces as of 9 am:

     The record winds caused semis to flip over, and lots of additional damage. A summary of the damage around Edmonton can be read here and near Saskatoon here.

     Several record highs were also broken yesterday, including in Winnipeg. A high of 3.3°C at the airport broke the old record of 2.2°C in 1973. Also of note, this was a 30.7°C increase from a low of -27.4°C in the morning! Here's a list of other records broken across the Prairies yesterday according to Environment Canada (note, not ALL records are included here):

     Some of these locations not only broke but smashed their old record by 2 to 4 degrees.

     The winds have created blizzard conditions in the RRV this morning, as seen in the following webcam image of Emerson:

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Roller Coaster Ride

     The next few days will feature a roller coaster ride in temperatures as well as many opportunities for snow.

     After a low of -27.4°C at Winnipeg airport this morning, temperatures are expected to skyrocket this morning, reaching or even exceeding the freezing mark by afternoon. Right now I don't have any stats on the biggest single-day jumps in temperature, but I may try to gather some for the January summary. Surprisingly, we may even come close to a record high today. Old record is just 2.2°C in 1973.

     Snow will begin this morning and continue until this afternoon. 4-8 cm is expected with this initial wave of snow. Winds will strengthen to south 40 km/h this morning, giving blowing snow and trecherous driving conditions on highways. A brief period of ice pellets or freezing rain is possible this afternoon as the warmer air moves in.

     More snow is expected this evening and tonight, but more on and off in nature, with an additional 1-3 cm possible. Winds from the north-northwest at 50 gusting to 70 km/h will create awful conditions on highways. In addition, plummeting temperatures tomorrow morning will make highways extremely slick. Avoid unnecessary travel tomorrow morning. Winds will weaken slightly tomorrow afternoon and become light tomorrow night. After a high near or above zero today, temperatures tomorrow night will plummet into the -20's.

     We go back up the roller coaster on Friday as another clipper system moves in. Snow is expected to begin in the afternoon and continue in the evening. 2-5 cm is possible. This system does not look as intense as today's. Highs in the mid to high minus single digits are expected.

     At this point, another clipper system is possible for Sunday, but it is unclear right now what impact that will have on Winnipeg.