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We See A Warm-Upthis Month?

Well, it’s probably no surprise to anyone that January ended up being colder than average right across agricultural Manitoba. The coldest temperatures for the month were recorded in the Winnipeg area, with a mean monthly temperature of around -20C; Brandon was a little milder at -19.5C and Dauphin was the “hot spot” with a mean monthly temperature of -18.5C.

Precipitation, for the most part, was below average for the month, with both the Winnipeg and Brandon regions seeing only around 60 per cent of the average amount. The Dauphin region saw a little bit more snow and came in right around average. Check out this week’s weather map for a more detailed look at January’s precipitation.

Due to the Christmas holidays I wasn’t able to write a review of December’s weather or take a look ahead to see what January’s weather was going to be like. So I can’t really check back to see who was the closest to predicting this January’s cold and relatively dry weather… or can I?

Hindsight

While I didn’t do the usual weather predictions for January, we did take a look at the yearly predictions from each of our weather prognosticators and luckily for us, most of them spelled out what type of weather we should expect during the month. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, January was supposed to see moderating temperatures, resulting in above-average temperatures. While we did see some moderation in temperatures during the last half of the month, it wasn’t enough to overcome the extremely cold weather during the first half of the month. Looking at the Old Farmer’s Almanac’s prediction about precipitation, it looks like it called it correctly, with a prediction of drier than average weather. So we can give the Old Farmer’s Almanac a 50-50 split on its January forecast.

Over at the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac, it had called for our cold weather to continue in January, so chalk up a correct prediction there! But it called for a really big storm early in the month, which never happened, which means its precipitation forecast was a bust, since a big storm would have meant above-average amounts of precipitation – so we have another 50-50 split.

Looking at Environment Canada, it too ended up with a 50-50 split with its forecast. EC, like the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac, had called for both colder-than-average conditions and above-average amounts of precipitation during the month.

Finally, here at the Co-operator, I didn’t make any predictions that were specific to January, but I did say the rest of the winter would see colder-than-average conditions with the odd warm spell here and there – so far, so good. As for precipitation, I indicated most of it would stay to our south, but we should see the odd system resulting in nearaverage amounts of snow. So I missed out a little on the precipitation, but overall it was fairly close.

If you had to choose a winner for best January prediction, I would have to say it’s a toss-up between the Old Farmer’s Almanac and us here at the Co-operator.

The month ahead

Now, what is February going to serve up to us this year in the weather department? According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac we will see above-average temperatures (warmer the farther west you go), along with below-average amounts of precipitation. The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac looks to be calling for below-average temperatures as it uses the word cold a lot in its discussions. It does mention rain a couple of times, which confuses me as it keeps talking about how cold it will be. With the exception of the couple of mentions of rain, it does not talk about any precipitation, so I’m going to say it calls for below-average amounts.

The folks over at Environment Canada appear to feel pretty optimistic, with a call for near-average temperatures and precipitat ion dur ing February. I should also point out that its February predictions for our area have fairly high confidence levels, with a 60-70 per cent rate of being correct in the past. I think I could handle a nice average month.

Finally, here at the Co-operator, I’m leaning toward EC’s forecast of nearaverage temperatures and precipitation. If anything, I think we might see slightly above-average temperatures and precipitation, as there look to be several good warm spells on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see a few really cold days. Precipitation prediction in the winter is always tough, as most precipitation during any month will come from one or two storm systems. Get hit by a couple, or one really big one, and we end up with above-average amounts of precipitation. If we miss one or two systems we end up with little or no precipitation. I think we will see a couple of storm systems this month, which should give us at least average amounts of precipitation, with a chance of really getting dumped on.

Like I say every month: now we just have to sit back and see what happens!

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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