Above-average warmth continues

In our last issue we began our annual look at severe summer weather and I did indicate we would continue on that theme in this issue. What I forgot was that another month was coming to an end, which means it’s time for our look back at April’s weather, then our look ahead to see what May might have in store.

Looking back at April’s weather I would say it was a month that gave us a little bit of almost everything. We had some nice mild days, but we also had some pretty cold ones, especially some of the nights. The rains came, along with a little snow. When it was all added up, April 2012 came in right around 1.5 C above the long-term average. This continues our very long trend of above-average monthly temperatures. We have now seen 11 months in a row with above-average temperatures across southern and central Manitoba. It was May of last year when we last experienced a colder-than-average month.

While April did have above-average temperatures, the extent above average was not as intense as the previous six months. Since last October each month has been above average by at least 2 C or more. In fact, I feel that the early onset of spring in March helped to keep April’s temperatures warmer than they would otherwise have been. The fact that we did not have any snow cover left to melt, there was very little standing water, and that the soil and open water bodies were unusually warm for this time of the year, all contributed to our milder-than-average April. The overall weather pattern in April was not a particularly warm one. If we had gone into April with more typical spring conditions a lot of the sun’s energy would have been used to melt the snow, evaporate water, and then heat the soil and water bodies. Because of the warm March, all of this “extra” heat was available to help boost what I think would have been a much colder April.

Precipitation during April came in near to slightly above average in most areas. Winnipeg recorded around 35 millimetres of precipitation, which was right around average, while the Brandon region recorded about 40 mm, which was about 10 mm above average. Even when we combine this with the above-average precipitation we received in March, things are still fairly dry. With seeding really getting underway in most areas, many hope these dry conditions can last just a little longer and that we won’t see a repeat of some previously wet Mays and Junes.

Who called it?

That leads us to our big question: what will May’s weather be like this year? Well, before we look at that, let’s look back and see who was able to come closest to predicting April’s above-average temperatures and near-average amounts of precipitation. It appears my forecast was closest, with a call for near-average temperatures along with near- to above-average amounts of precipitation. Environment Canada came in second, with its call for above-average temperatures and below-average amounts of precipitation.

OK, here we go: what kind of weather can we expect for this critical weather month of May? According to Environment Canada, southern regions can expect above-average temperatures to continue, while more northern regions will see average temperatures. Precipitation amounts in southern and central regions are predicted to be below average, with more northern areas receiving near-average amounts.

The two almanacs (Old Farmer’s and Canadian Farmers’) both call for below-average temperatures, something they have been doing for months now. They seem to be leaning toward a cool start to the month, then a mild period in the middle, followed by a cold end to the month. Along with the colder-than-average conditions the Old Farmer’s Almanac calls for below-average amounts of precipitation, which is kind of unusual, as cold Mays tend to be wet. The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac calls for plenty of unsettled weather, along with the chance for some heavy rain.

Finally, here at the Co-operator, I am calling for the above-average streak to continue, but we’ll only be above average by a little bit. Along with the above-average temperatures I also feel we will see near- to maybe even above-average amounts of precipitation. I think the first part of May has the best chance for seeing rain, with the second half being on the dry side. If we miss out on these early May rains, then things could be pretty darned dry by the time June rolls around!

About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park.

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