It was a dark and stormy night – wait, that’s not it. It was a dark and stormy day – that’s more like it! It might seem like an old-fashioned start to a story, but that pretty much sums up the last week of weather across much of agricultural Manitoba.
It is interesting that just as we were starting to talk about what causes our stormy weather, we received one of those storms full force! This storm turned out to be a textbook example of a textbook storm. You know, textbooks often have to simplify things when they try to explain them, and it is often pretty rare that we actually find a “textbook” example of something in nature. This storm wasn’t really one of those “textbook” examples of a storm, but rather it was what I call a textbook-textbook example of a storm. That is, this storm wasn’t just one type of storm, but many different “textbook” examples of how storm systems can behave, all rolled up into one big storm.
ONE BIG SYSTEM
Some will argue that this was several different storms that affected our region starting on Sunday, March 22, and lasting all the way through to Thursday, March 25, but in my opinion it was just one big system. One way to think about it is in military terms. To start it off, we have us against the atmosphere. In this particular war the atmosphere began by launching an offensive against us on March 22 and that offensive lasted until the 25th.
During that offensive, several different assaults were made. The first and possibly the most impressive was the wave of thunderstorms that swept through western Manitoba during the daylight hours on Sunday. While we can occasionally experience thunderstorms in March, to have an extended period of thunderstorm activity occur at this time of year is pretty much unheard of. Not only did this region experience hours of thunderstorms, but those thunderstorms ended up producing record amounts of rainfall.
Amounts as high as 75 mm fell from these storms, making them much more like summer thunderstorms than early spring ones – heck, there were even severe thunderstorm watches issued! While eastern areas mostly escaped these early thunderstorms, their luck would not hold out.
By Tuesday the second assault from the storm system began to move in as most areas saw additional rainfall. Amounts were not overly impressive, but records were still broken in a number of areas, as rainfall is not that common at this time of the year, never mind seeing 10-plus mm of rain.
Things settled down once again late on Tuesday and everyone, including yours truly, started a big sigh of relief, thinking that once again we dodged the winter bullet, but we were not so lucky this time – at least in the central and eastern parts of the province.
By late Tuesday night the final assault was launched as the main area of low pressure, which until now has been hanging down to our south, throwing waves of energy in our direction, finally began to move to the northeast. As Wednesday rolled around, cold air and snow had finally pushed into central and eastern regions of Manitoba, bringing with it 10-20 cm of snow, along with plenty of blowing snow. For many regions this was the worst storm of the winter, with five-to 10-foot snowdrifts not an uncommon sight.
Finally, by the end of the day on Thursday, the main area of low pressure had pushed off far enough to the northeast that we were finally out of its influence, at least snow-wise. It did leave behind a wet and snowy landscape that quickly froze as cold air settled in behind the storm.
When everything was said and done the final precipitation amounts came in as follows:
Winnipeg: 43.5 mm Brandon: 46.4 mm Dauphin: 78.5 mm
As is usual when we battle against Mother Nature, we almost always lose and this was the case with this storm. After making it through the winter with mostly only cold feet to complain about, we finally felt her one-two punch. Let’s hope it’s not a knockout!