Friday, 11 March 2016

Mild February

It was a mild and snowy February overall in Winnipeg. Cold was lacking with only one cold spell from the 8th to 13th with temperatures slightly below normal. The monthly minimum of -27.9°C occurred on the 13th.

Mild conditions dominated the remainder of February. 6 days exceeded the freezing mark in Winnipeg, close to the normal of 5 days. It was warmer to the southwest however, where snowpack was thin to non-existent. Melita in southwestern Manitoba managed to reach 9°C on February 6 and 26.

Manitoba actually missed out on the most anomalously warm conditions which occurred in areas such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and North Dakota.

Hoar Frost south of Winkler on Feb 1, 2016. Little snow on the ground.

There was little to no snow on the ground from Melita, MB westward to Calgary, AB in February. Persistent warmth was the story in this area, especially in southern Alberta. After February 3rd, every single day exceeded the freezing mark in Calgary and this streak has continued into March. In addition, 7 days in February reached double digits with a monthly high of 16.9°C on February 26. There was also a lack of snow with not a single snowfall from February 2nd to 27th. With just 1.8 cm, it was the 5th least snowy February since 1885 in Calgary. Lethbridge, AB was even warmer in February with 15 days reaching double digits. Saskatchewan also received this extreme warmth. Only 11 days failed to exceed the freezing mark in Regina. The monthly high was 13.2°C on February 26, the second warmest temperature on record in February since 1884.

From east to west, here’s how February averaged and ranked across the southern Prairies:

February 2016 average and rank in major cities across the southern Prairies 

February 2016 average
Deviation from 1981-2010 normal
Winnipeg, MB
+ 2.4°C
Tied 22nd warmest
Brandon, MB
+ 4.3°C
7th warmest
Regina, SK
+ 7.6°C
4th warmest
Calgary, AB
+ 6.8°C
2nd warmest

 In North Dakota, the warmest conditions occurred in southwestern parts of the state. Bismarck reached a record 23°C on February 27, the warmest temperature ever recorded in North Dakota in February. The previous state record was 22°C in 1992.

Despite the warmth, some winter storms still occurred. Blizzard and blowing snow conditions occurred February 7 and 28. Both produced severely reduced visibility in the Red River Valley resulting in numerous highway closures. In addition, both welcomed the arrival of much colder conditions. 

The month finished off with two thundersnow events close to the US border. A lone lightning strike occurred northeast of Altona after midnight on February 23. More thundersnow occurred near Langdon, ND in the evening on February 28.

In total, there was 24.0 cm of snow in Winnipeg, 10 cm above normal and tied 33rd snowiest February since 1873.  It is a little hard to believe it was so snowy considering there really wasn't any major snowfalls. The greatest snowfall on February 27 only dumped about 5 cm. Frequent small snowfalls were to blame for the high monthly totals.

The Ice Show in Winnipeg was a new festival added in 2016