Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A Very Early Spring: The Story of March 2015

From one extreme to the next. That's how March has been like the last few years.

March 13 south Winnipeg - Source: CBC
Similarly to 2010 and 2012, spring arrived much earlier than normal in southern Manitoba this year with April-like temperatures and disappearing snow cover by mid-March. Snow cover disappeared in Winnipeg by March 15, tying with 1995 for 3rd earliest snow melt on record since 1955. In comparison, 2012 had the second earliest melt on record with snow disappearing by March 14. This is in sharp comparison to 2013 and 2014 when snow didn't disappear until April 28 and April 21 respectively.

After a frigid start to the month, temperatures skyrocketed by the second week of March. Record breaking warmth arrived March 14 and 15 with highs in the mid teens, about 15°C above normal. Winnipeg reached 13.2°C on March 14, breaking the old record of 11.4°C in 1981. A high of 14.3°C was achieved the following day, just shy of the old record of 14.4°C in 2012. We could have broken that record if it wasn't for the early day cloud cover. The morning low of 6.7°C that day was the warmest morning low on record for so early in the year since 1953. Previously, the earliest we had a morning low as warm or warmer than that was on March 19, 2012 with a morning low of 16.0°C. A record high minimum for the day was not broken thanks to plummeting temperatures in the evening.

The warmest temperatures during the warm spell were near the US border in general. Morden reached 18.3°C and 17.6°C on March 14 and 15 respectively. These not only obliterated the old daily records but were also the earliest occurrences of temperature over 16°C on record since 1904. Amazingly, the high of 18.3°C on March 14 broke the old 2012 record by 7.1°C!

Seasonal to above seasonal conditions continued for the remainder of March with highs mostly above zero. Three days in the low teens occurred at the end of the month, a fitting end to the 20th warmest March on record since 1872. In the end, 5 days exceeded 10°C in Winnipeg in March, slightly above the normal of 2 days.

The year's first thunderstorms also occurred this March. Isolated thunderstorms developed north and south of Winnipeg with lightning and pea-sized hail on March 30. Thunderstorms are certainly not unheard of in March. In fact, back in March 2012, 6 days reported lightning strikes somewhere in southern Manitoba. Pea-sized hail also fell in Winnipeg on March 27, 2012. Nonetheless, they are unusual. For instance, in Winnipeg specifically, a thunderstorm in March is statistically about a one in eight year event (only 4 thunderstorm days recorded at the airport in March in the last 30 years). No lightning occurred in the city yesterday though, but hail did fall in the south end.

The very first lightning strikes of 2015 in southern Manitoba on March 30


  1. Enjoy the warm day tomorrow despite the wind. Depending on sunshine we could reach upper teens. Much cooler after the passage of the cold front Thursday into next week.

    There is good news however. After a coolish start to April there are hints of warmer than normal pattern for the second half of April.

  2. Looks like we will manage to get a decent amount of sunshine today... Good news as this will allow for temperatures to maximize. Can't rule out seeing highs around 17-18°C in Winnipeg. Old record is 19.4°C in 1928 which will be difficult to break. Breezy southeast winds will become westerly this afternoon.

    Cool down behind the system for tomorrow with temperatures likely falling below zero in the morning then remaining below zero the remainder of the day. There likely will be some light snow at times in the morning and afternoon before we clear out tomorrow evening. I don't expect much snow at all with perhaps 1 cm at most.

    Chilly long weekend with highs not far from 0°C. Generally near to slightly below seasonal start to April in general. As hinted above, there may be a significant warmup in mid April according to some long range models. Certainly will be interesting to see what happens.

  3. A nice start to the day today with sun, mild temperatures and relatively light winds... But that is all going to change in a couple hours from now.... Very strong north-northwest winds this afternoon with gusts to 60-70 km/h possible. This will bring plummeting temperatures midday and early afternoon. Will likely see some snow as well with a cm or two possible.

  4. Ugly out there now. Looks like a heavy band of snow heading our way from the North. Could give a few cm's.

    1. Ugly is the right word. Just biked through it back home! Quite the squall going through the city right now.

  5. Just a couple of more days of cooler weather then a warmup starts by Thursday. It looks like we get into the teens by the weekend and possibly close to even 20C by Sunday-Monday next week. As mentioned this warmup is likely going to lead into what's expected to be a warmer than normal 2nd half of April.

    So it appears Spring may finally win out for good later this week. It's about time I say.

    1. Thanks for that update... Yeah looking foreward tot he weekend for that warmth!

      Not many updates from me this week. Very busy with the end of the semester.

  6. I'll be updating through the week at www.michaelmcgregor7.wix.com/southmbweather
    -Michael McGregor