The weather page is prepared by Daniel Bezte. Dan has a BA Honours degree in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He has taught climate and weather classes at the U of W, and is a guest climate expert on CJOB’s morning show with Larry Updike. Daniel runs a computerized weather station on his 10 acres near Birds Hill Park, which he plans to develop into a small vegetable and fruit hobby farm.
Daniel welcomes questions and comments at [email protected]
Well, I hope everyone had a great holiday season! There are a number of different topics with which we could kick off our new year. We could get back to weather school – heck, I’m having trouble remembering where we left off! We could take a look ahead to see what the weather prognosticators are thinking our weather will be like for 2010 – not a bad idea. Before we take a look at that, however, I think it would be appropriate to take a look back and review the five main weather stories of 2009.
Now, the good folks over at Environment Canada have already come up with their list of top weather stories from last year, and after reading through them I have to admit they did a pretty good job hitting the main stories, but I don’t necessarily agree with the order. So, here’s what I see as the top five weather highlights from last year.
The first interesting point about the weather in 2009 (but not one of the top five stories) is how statistics can hide or mask things. For example, if we look at average weather conditions for 2009, it ended up that most regions across agricultural Manitoba had temperatures within 0.5C of average. The same goes for precipitation. Looking at our three main locations (Dauphin, Brandon and Winnipeg) they all came within five per cent of the average yearly total precipitation. So, all in all, I guess it was an average year this year. Yeah, right.
SUMMER OF OUR DISCONTENT
The No. 1 weather story according to Environment Canada, and I think pretty much everyone else, was the cold, miserable summer we had. The summer of 2009 turned out to be one of the coldest on record. The only positive thing we could say about it was that it was not as bad as the summer of 2004. When we look at the bigger picture, while the eastern Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces were experiencing cold, wet summer weather, southern Alberta, B. C., and northern Canada had a milder-than-average summer. In fact, northern Canada experienced its warmest summer on record and that contributed to Canada experiencing her 13th year in a row with above-average temperatures. Looking at global temperatures, 2009 looks like it will come in around the fifth-warmest year on record, and the last 10 years look to be the warmest decade on record. We will take a deeper look into this later this month.
The second-biggest weather story for our region in 2009, in my opinion, was the record rain last February. For those of you who can’t remember this one, back on Feb. 9, 2009 the Winnipeg region saw between 10 and 15 millimetres of rain while the Brandon region received about 15 mm. In between these locations the area around Portage la Prairie received upward of 20 mm. These amounts shattered the previous rainfall records for February. To make this even more noteworthy was the fact that most of this rain turned to ice on the cold road surfaces, making driving or walking nearly impossible. I remember driving home that day, moving at only 10 km/h on a gravel road and sliding right past my driveway. I don’t think I’ve ever seen and helped more people stuck in ditches in my life.
My third weather story pick for 2009 was the 10th biggest story according to Environment Canada: the record-breaking warm temperatures we experienced in September. We finally saw summer-like temperatures move in at the end of August and they stuck around until almost the end of September. This resulted in the warmest September on record for most stations across Manitoba. In fact, September ended up being the warmest month of the year in several places – how’s that for weird? For a number of growers, the record heat was exactly what was needed to salvage the year.
The fourth-biggest weather story of 2009 follows up on September’s record warmth with November’s heat wave. After temperatures plummeted to well below average in October, most people were wondering just how bad this winter was going to be. November started off around average, but after that it never seemed to want to cool down. We saw day after day of well-above-average temperatures with little or no snow. By the end of the month most places had come in nearly 7C above average, with several locations breaking records for the warmest average monthly daytime-high temperature – not a bad start to winter!
Finally, my fifth-biggest weather story of 2009 would have to be the continued retreat or melt of Arctic sea ice. I’ll go into this story in much more detail in upcoming issues, but 2009 saw Arctic sea ice drop to its third-lowest level on record. What makes this story even more interesting is the recent finding that what’s been presumed to be thick multiyear ice by satellite readings is, in some places, actually rotten ice on the verge of disintegrating. If this drop in sea ice continues, I believe this will be the biggest weather story of the decade and possibly even the century.