Saturday, 3 January 2015

The #1 Weather Story of 2014 in The Winnipeg Area

Dec to Feb departure. Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center

#1 - Harsh Winter 


It was the winter that just kept on giving. The cold that would just never end. Old Man Winter had a nasty temper last winter in Manitoba.

The cold began in November, but really got going in December 2013. It was the 6th coldest December on record since 1872 with an average of -20.9°C, 7.4°C below normal. It was the coldest since 2000 and the 2nd coldest since 1893. 14 days during the month did not even exceed -20°C for a high. In addition, 9 days dropped below -30°C. The monthly minimum of -37.9°C on December 31 was the coldest in December since 1933. Another low of -37.3°C on December 15 was not only a record but also the coldest for so early in the season since 1893. Not only was it cold but it was also snowy. 40.0 cm of snow fell in December, 66% above normal and the 20th snowiest December since 1872.

To the dismay of Manitobans, Old Man Winter did not loosen his grip until April. Well below normal temperatures and above normal snowfall continued for months. In fact, for only the second time since 1872, all three winter months of December, January and February averaged below -20°C.

January averaged -20.1°C, the coldest January since 2004. 8 days didn't exceed -20°C and 12 days dipped below -30°C. A low of -38.0°C on January 5 was the coldest since February 2007. The high of -30.2°C was a record low maximum for the day and the first high below -30°C since January 30, 2004. To think, just 2 years earlier on the same day, a record high of 6.7°C was achieved. The main story of January was the frequency of snowstorms and blizzards. Moderate snowfalls and blizzards occurred every couple days for 2 weeks in mid-late January. 37.6 cm fell in total for the month, the 25th snowiest January. Blowing snow warnings were issued for Winnipeg by Environment Canada on 6 days. Numerous blizzards occurred in the southern Red River Valley.

February averaged -20.0°C, 6.5°C below normal and the coldest February since 1979.

Biting cold greeted us into March. The mean temperature on March 1 was -31.5°C, about 21°C below normal and the second coldest March day on record since 1872. The low of -37.0°C was just shy of the all-time March low of -38.9°C in 1873 and 1880. The high of -26.0°C not only obliterated the old record low maximum of -22.2°C in 1972 but was also the 2nd coldest high in March on record. Of course, all that was still not enough for Old Man Winter. An all-time March low wind chill of -49.6 also occurred.

In the end, March averaged -12.7°C, 6.9°C below normal. As April came, 43 cm of snow still remained on the ground, the 3rd deepest snow pack entering into April since 1955. Snow depth did not reach a trace cm until April 19, the 3rd latest date to do so on record.

With an average of -18.4°C, it was the coldest December to March period in 115 years (and tied 11th coldest since 1872). 90 days in the period dropped below -20°C, tied 6th most and well above the normal of 51 days. It was also the most -20°C days in 121 years (since the winter of 1892-1893). Basically, no one alive today in Winnipeg had ever experienced a winter as cold. In terms of snowfall, 124.6 cm fell, the 12th snowiest December to March period. Combining 11th coldest with 12th snowiest truly made winter 2013-2014 one of the harshest winters in history.
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  1. Generally, looks like about 10-15 cm in Winnipeg last night... so forecasts worked out pretty good for this system. Rob, Brad and I all measured about 12 cm in our ends of the city.

    Snow depth up to 17 cm here in South St Vital. Drifts now close to 40 cm.

    Judging by weather webcams this morning, drifting snow looks like a concern on highways with reduced visibility and trecherous conditions. Blizzard conditions did not materialize south of the city however. Snowfall amounts uncertain right now as there haven't been many reports yet. So far 15 cm reported near Morris.

    Now we must deal with the cold.... Lows well into the -30's likely tonight. As mentioned previously, -35°C not out of the question. The cold continues through next week, but there are hints that the cold may let up a bit mid month.

  2. Great summary Julien. Let's hope we don't see another winter like that for another 115 years! :)