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Cool, Snowy January… February?

This week it’s time for us to do our monthly look back, then try to glance ahead and see what February might have in store for us.

Looking back at temperatures during January, it seems we saw a little bit of everything from bone-chilling cold to nice balmy days. The month started off with fairly typical January temperatures and these conditions continued through the first half of the month. Then, during the third week, we saw what will hopefully be the worst cold snap of the winter, when overnight lows fell into the low to mid-minus-30s and daytime highs struggled into the low -20s. After a full week of these cold temperatures we saw a rapid warming move on Jan. 23, with high temperatures soaring to near or even a little above 0 C for the first time since the middle of November! These mild temperatures lasted until about Jan. 29 when cold air moved in to finish off the month.

When all the temperatures were added up and averaged out, southwestern agricultural Manitoba saw temperatures right around average during January. In Brandon, the average temperature for the month was -18 C, which is basically right on the long-term average. In Winnipeg, the average temperature for January came in at about -19.5 C, which is a good 1.5 C below the long-term average. Values for Dauphin are still not available through Environment Canada’s website, but using Russell’s values, it seems the northwestern portion of agricultural Manitoba also saw below-average temperatures. In Russell, the mean monthly temperature in January was about -19.3 C, which, like Winnipeg, was about -1.5 C below the long-term average.

Precipitation during January did not follow the same trend as temperatures. While there were no huge storms during the month, it did seem that every five days or so, most places would receive some snow. By the end of the month all three regions had recorded above-average amounts of precipi tat ion. Brandon recorded about 26 millimetres of water-equivalent precipitation– about seven mm above average. To the north, Russell reported 24 mm of precipi tat ion, al so about seven mm above its average. The Winnipeg region was the wet spot, thanks to a storm system that brought a short

period of heavy snow Jan. 27. In total, Winnipeg recorded about 32 mm of precipitation, or roughly 12 mm above average.

WHO CALLED IT?

Overall I think we could summarize January as being colder and wetter than average. Now the fun part: who was best able to predict the cool, wet weather? Looking back it seems everyone except Environment Canada called for colder-than-average temperatures during January. Only one forecaster predicted above-average amounts of precipitation and that was the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac, but even it didn’t hit the forecast nail directly on the head, as it had called for well-above- average amounts of precipitation.

Now, on to February’s forecast. Environment Canada is sticking to its guns with a call for near-average temperatures and precipitation. The Old Farmer’s Almanaccalls for temperatures to be well below average, along with near-average amounts of precipitation. TheCanadian Farmers’ Almanaccalls for colder-thanaverage conditions along with well-above-average amounts of snow. In fact, it calls for several storms during the month, with the first one hitting during the first three days of February, bringing upward of 40 centimetres of snow!

Finally, my forecast calls for a continuation of the weather pattern we saw during January. This means we should see a couple of cold snaps during the month, separated by a few warm days. It looks like the number of cold days will be greater than the number of warm days, leading to a slightly cooler-thanaverage month. We will continue to see plenty of chances for snow during the month. This should result in near-to slightly above-average amounts of snow.

Next week I think we’ll take a look at the one topic that seems to be at the top of everyone’s weather mind lately: snow. Along with concern about all of the snow comes the natural concern about what will happen in the spring when it all melts. Will we have the “perfect storm” set of conditions come together this spring to create a 100-year flood, or will we end up with just another average spring? The real answer: No one knows!

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Wewillcontinuetoseeplentyof chancesforsnowduringthemonth.

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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