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2009 Continues To Be Cold And Snowy

My gut feeling is that we are going to have a March with near-to slightly belowaverage amounts of precipitation.

February 2009 turned out to be an unusual month, weather-wise, across agricultural Manitoba. We started off the month like January, with colder-than-a verage conditions, and most people began to resign themselves to the fact that February was probably going to be another cold month. Then, during the second week of February, we saw temperatures soar across the region, with Dauphin seeing a near-record high of 6.4C. Along with the warm daytime highs that occurred, we also experienced extremely warm overnight lows. Winnipeg broke a record for the warmest overnight low on Feb. 10 when the temperature failed to drop below freezing.

Along with these very mild temperatures during this week came a storm system that brought an unusual mixture of snow, freezing rain and rain. Far-western areas saw mostly snow from this system, with freezing rain and rain being the dominant precipitation type as you moved eastward. Seeing rain in February is fairly rare, with most locations in southern Manitoba only recording a handful of these events over the last 100 years or so.

After this warm week it was beginning to look like February would end up with above-average temperatures, but we slid back into the colder weather by the middle of the month. These colder temperatures were then followed by a strong outbreak of cold air at the end of the month, which resulted in all regions recording a colder-than-average month.

BRANDON COLDER

When all the numbers were added up, Brandon ended up being the cold spot, with a mean monthly temperature of -15.6C, which was 2.2C below average. Winnipeg and Dauphin both recorded mean monthly temperatures of around -14.6C, about 1.1C below average.

Precipitation at all three sites was well above average for the month. Dauphin was the wettest, with nearly 50 mm of precipitation. Winnipeg came in second with around 44 mm, and finally Brandon was the driest with 33 mm. Saying Brandon was the driest really isn’t fair, as its 33 mm of precipitation was double what would normally be seen.

So February ended up being colder and wetter than average. Now, the question is: was anyone able to correctly predict this weather? The Old Farmer’s Almanac was way off, with a call for above-average temperatures and belowaverage precipitation. The

Canadian Farmers Almanac was a little better with a call for below-average temperatures and precipitation. We also have to give them credit as they did mention rainfall during the month – something that I thought was a little strange.

Environment Canada took the middle road in its forecast for February by calling for near-average temperatures and precipitation. Finally, here at the Co-operator, I followed pretty close to Environment Canada’s forecast by saying temperatures would likely come in pretty close to average, along with precipitation. I then tweaked it a little bit by saying temperatures might end up being a little above average, along with precipitation. So I was the only one to think that precipitation might come in above average, but I blew it on the temperatures. If we had to declare a winner I think I would give the nod to the Canadian Farmers Almanac with its prediction of below-average temperatures and rain.

PESSIMISTIC

Now, the $1 million question: will we see a nice early start to spring this year or will we be left shivering for another month?

According to Environment Canada, the Old Farmer’s Almanac and the Canadian Farmers Almanac, we are going to be doing a lot of shivering during March as they all call for below-average temperatures. In fact, the Old Farmer’s Almanac calls for well-below-average temperatures. To go along with this, all three forecasters call for above-average precipitation, with the Old Farmer’s Almanac once again calling for well-above-average amounts. Based on these three forecasts, it’s really looking like March is going to be very winterlike, with plenty of cold and snow.

Finally, what do I have to say about March’s weather? I think our three forecasters are being a little pessimistic. While I don’t think we will see the month come in with above-average temperatures, I don’t think we will be that cold either. Overall I think that March will come in near to slightly below average. Precipitation, as I have pointed out in the past, is a hard thing to predict. One storm can change the month from below average to above average. My gut feeling is that we are going to have a March with near-to slightly belowaverage amounts of precipitation. When I look at the medium-range models I’m less optimistic, as the weather pattern remains energetic, meaning there will be plenty of chances to get hit by a big storm system. It sounds like March could give us an interesting ride this year!

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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