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A look at our backwards October – November weather

Mother Nature seemed a bit mixed up at the start of the month, but eventually figured it out

Snow covers soybeans in the field between Neepawa and Arden on October 3.

Well, what can we say about October’s weather across the Canadian Prairies? I guess if I had to quickly describe it, I would say it was a backwards month.

The month of October started off like it was the middle of November, with cold temperatures and snow. A large portion of the Prairies reported measurable snowfall during the first week of the month with only one of the major reporting centres recording no snow, and one centre recording a huge amount of snow.

Fortunately, Mother Nature seemed to figure out that it wasn’t November and by the middle of the month we began to see temperatures moderate, with western regions seeing temperatures more like September than October. All in all it was a bit of a wild month, so let’s take a look at the final numbers to see how they add up and then we’ll look ahead to see what the weather models are predicting for November and December.

As I pointed out (not that you needed me to), October began on a miserable note, that is, unless you like snow. The first couple of weeks saw temperatures that were a good 10 C below average and if you combine the cold weather with several storm systems, there was a good chance you saw snow, and for some regions, a fair bit of snow. The table below shows the snowfall totals for the major reporting centres across the Prairies. Some locations did not record actual snowfall amounts, so I had to look at hourly precipitation type (was it snowing or raining) and use total precipitation amounts to come up with an estimated amount of snowfall.

Looking at the data you can see that most areas saw around 5.0 cm of snowfall with varying amounts of ground accumulation. Saskatoon did not receive any measurable snowfall, while Calgary’s record-breaking early-October snowstorm helped that area end up with nearly 50 cm of snow during the month.

Combing the snowfall with rainfall, and yes, it also rained in October — most regions reported either near- or above-average amounts of precipitation. In Manitoba, all three regions reported near-average amounts, while in Saskatchewan, Regina also reported near-average amounts. To the north, Saskatoon reported well-below-average amounts, with only about 7.0 mm of rainfall. This trend of wet to the south and dry to the north continued in Alberta, with Peace River coming in well-below average, Edmonton near average, and Calgary well-above average.

Temperatures across the Prairies ended up coming in well-below average across all regions. The warm temperatures during the second half of the month were not enough to overcome the cold start. Across Manitoba, mean monthly temperatures ran between 2.5 and 4.0 C below the long-term average. Across Saskatchewan it was a little better, with mean-monthly temperatures running between 1.5 and 2.0 C below average. Over Alberta, the warming trend continued, but temperatures were still below average. Mean monthly temperatures ranged from 1.5 C below average across the south, to around 0.5 C below average over northern regions.

Overall, it was a cold month with near-average precipitation for most regions. Southern Alberta saw above-average amounts, northern Alberta and Saskatchewan received below-average amounts, and Manitoba reported near-average amounts of precipitation for October. Looking back at the forecasts for the month, it looks like the win goes to Environment Canada, that predicted near-average precipitation with colder-than-average temperatures and a warming trend beginning late in the month or in early November.

Looking ahead to November and December, Environment Canada is calling for near-average temperatures along with above-average amounts of precipitation. The CanSIPS model is calling for above-average temperatures and near-average precipitation for both months. The CFS model is calling for above-average temperatures in both November and December with near- to slightly above-average amounts of precipitation.

The forecasts from the Old Farmer’s Almanac are calling for a colder-than-average November with near-average precipitation followed by near-average temperatures in December, with above-average precipitation. The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac is calling for cold and wet or snowy weather to continue through November and December.

My forecast, or guess, is that western regions will see above-average temperatures along with near-average precipitation for both November and December. As you move eastward, temperatures will moderate towards more average values, with Manitoba seeing periods of warm and cold that will equal out to around average for each month. Precipitation will run near to slightly below average for both months, with near average more likely if warmer conditions win out over the cold.

Now as usual, we must 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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