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2010: A Remarkable Year, Weather-Wise

Well, it’s that time of year again: a time to look back. Before we try to peer ahead at what 2011 might have in store for us, weather-wise, we need to take a good look back at some of the crazy weather we experienced across the Prairies during 2010.

Before we really dig into the numbers, I thought I would take a look at what Environment Canada saw as the biggest weather stories across Canada and specifically across the Prairies.

Environment Canada’s biggest weather story of 2010 was the springlike weather that impacted the Olympic Winter Games in and around Vancouver. Going into the winter it looked like things were going to be OK for the different Olympic venues, with colder-than-average temperatures and plenty of snow, but then El Nińo kicked in and in the months leading up to the Olympics, the temperatures soared and the rains fell. Below are just a few weather highlights for Vancouver leading up to the Olympics.

Vancouver’s temperatures in January soared above 10 C for 13 days, far more than the three-day average. The mercury rose as high as 14.1 C and did not fall below -2.7 C. There were only two freeze days (five hours in total), far below the 12 days below freezing normally seen in Vancouver for that month. Vancouver has never seen a warmer stretch of winter weather than the

31-day period ending Feb. 9, with records dating back 114 years. For 40 consecutive days, between Jan. 8 and Feb. 16, the average temperature at Vancouver stayed above 5.2 C; the previous string of days above 5.2 C was 18 in 1998. The city did not get any snow after Dec. 14, while it normally averages 35 cm. In the 50 days prior to the opening ceremonies, Vancouver experienced only seven dry days, no snow, and a total of 247.2 millimetres of rain.

While this weather story didn’t affect the Prairies I would still have to say, due to the world stage Canada was on for this event, it was definitely the weather story of 2010.

The second big story was Hurricane Igor, or rather the remains of the hurricane that affected the Maritimes and resulted in a lot of damage to Newfoundland in particular.

PRAIRIE PRECIPITATION

Environment Canada’s third major Canadian weather story of 2010 was the wet weather we exper ienced on the Prairies this summer and its sixth top story was the series of summer storms that hit Saskatchewan. Personally, I think we can really combine these into one overall weather story: a wet, wet, wet growing season across nearly all the Prairie provinces. This was likely the biggest weather story of the year for the Canadian Prairies.

As Environment Canada put it, the weather across the Prairies during 2010 went from drought to drenched. After an unusually early and dry start to spring across most regions, farmers were starting to worry that 2010 was going to end up as another dry year. Some regions were able to get their crops in early, all they were waiting for was rain… and by the end of April the rains came. The problem was, they never really stopped after that. May ended up being wet, June wasn’t much better. While there was some nice weather in July and August, storms brought more unneeded rain. Farmers who were able to get a crop in and didn’t see it washed away early in the summer were now hoping September would be nice to them, but that didn’t happen. Wet weather in September kept a number of farmers off their fields, leaving large amounts of crops unharvestable.

To put things into perspective, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg all recorded their wettest growing season on record. The most remarkable of these records was in Saskatoon. During the April-to- September time period, it received 645 mm of rain. The previous record was 420 mm, set back in 1923 – talk about totally shattering a record!

HURRICANE FORCE

The final weather story of 2010 for the Prairies comes in as the ninth-biggest weather story for Canada. This weather story took place in late October and affected eastern Saskatchewan and much of Manitoba. For this weather story we are talking about the incredibly deep area of low pressure that brought copious amounts of rains to much of Manitoba and heavy, wet snow to eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba. What made this system so unusual was just how deep or low the pressure was in this system. At the peak of the storm Winnipeg recorded its lowest all-time barometric pressure reading ever. Along with all the rain and snow, near-hurricane- force winds across the Manitoba lakes caused damage that even the old timers could not remember seeing. All in all it was a truly remarkable storm.

Overall, 2010 was a rather remarkable year for weather across our region, and not in a good way. Let’s hope 2011 ends up being an unremarkable year and we get the right amount of rain, sunshine, and heat – and at the right time!

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EnvironmentCanada’sbiggestweatherstoryof 2010wasthespringlikeweatherthatimpactedthe OlympicWinterGamesinandaroundVancouver.

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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