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Defining A Perfect Summer

What defines a really good summer, weather-wise? I believe that if I were to ask 20 different people that question, I would get 20 different answers! I was listening to the radio the other day and the question asked of the listeners was to rate this summer from a one to 10, with 10 being the ideal summer. The vast majority of the listeners who called in rated this summer between seven and 10. There were a few who rated this summer understandably low, as they were directly affected by the long-term flooding, but overall, most of the comments were that this summer has had nearly perfect weather.

That got me to thinking: what is perfect summer weather? I don’t think there is any way to really quantify what perfect summer weather is, as it all depends on what you want to do during the summer. If you’re a beach goer, then hot and dry will be your perfect summer. Golfers probably like it a little cooler, with plenty of sunshine and light winds. Depending on the golf course, they may or may not want occasional rains. Storm chasers like a lot of thunderstorms, and those of you who prefer to just hunker down in your houses, and live the summer away that way, probably don’t really care what the weather is like. Then there are the growers; whether you’re growing veggies in a little corner plot or have 1,000 acres, the perfect summer weather will be different depending on what you grow and the soil in which you grow it. Like I said, there are a number of ways to describe a perfect summer, and all of them are different.

The next question is: just what time period are we talking about when we say “summer?” From a climatology point of view, summer is defined as June, July and August, but I think for most of us in this part of the world, summer is made up of the months of July and August. Even though August is not quite over yet, the last few days of the month don’t look like they will change the overall numbers by much. With this in mind, I thought I’d take a look back at the summer months of July and August and see just what kind of summer we had across our region, and I’ll let you decide if this truly was the perfect summer or not.

Unfortunately, Environment Canada is still having problems with the data from Dauphin, so I had to limit this study to Winnipeg and Brandon. Whenever I deal with a lot of numbers, I think the best way to show what is going on is by using a table to show all of the data. The following tables show the weather data for July and August for Winnipeg and Brandon. This table also includes the averages for each month as well as the summer as a whole. Values that are above the long-term average are in red and those below the average are in blue.

If your idea of a perfect summer is hot and dry, then this was the summer for you, especially if you live in the eastern parts of the province. Both Winnipeg and Brandon had above-average temperatures over the summer, with Brandon coming in a full degree above average and Winnipeg coming in nearly 2 above average. Some people have said this summer might have been one of the warmest ever in Winnipeg, but actually, this summer didn’t even come close! The hottest summer on record in Winnipeg was back in 1983 with a mean summer temperature of 22.4 C. Even though the summer was above average in Brandon, the number of days with high temperatures above 30 C and 35 C was below average. Winnipeg, on the other hand, saw over double the number of days above 30 C it normally sees, and had six times the number of +35 C days!

Both Brandon and Winnipeg had drier-than-average summers, barring any last rainstorm over the last couple of days of the month. Thanks to a very dry August in Brandon, that region saw only half of what it would normally expect. The Winnipeg region saw a very dry summer, with only 25 per cent of the average amount of rainfall. This region had the driest July on record and has a good chance of breaking the record for the driest July-August period. The current record is 50.1 mm, set back in 1990. If we go back into the really old records, the driest summer in Winnipeg was recorded back in 1894 when 36.5 mm of rain fell. Other areas around Winnipeg have been even drier. My own place, which is about 30 minutes northeast of the city, has only seen 25 mm of rain over the summer.

Next week the final numbers for August will be in and we’ll take a look ahead to see what might be in store for us this fall.

———

Mean Temp. (C)

30 C Days 35 C DaysCooling Days Rain (mm)Avg. High (C) Avg. Low (C)30 C Days 35 C DaysCooling Days Rain (mm)Avg. High (C) Avg. Low (C)Mean Temp. (C)20119.0

2.0 109.0

10.0

28.2 14.1 21.2

0.0

70.0

65.0

26.2 13.6 19.9

20114.0JulyJulyAverage

4.0

Average

5.0

0.11.0

68.0

66.0

70.6

29.0

25.8

27.9

13.3

12.4

19.5

20.2

0.20.0

54.0

45.0

72.5

4.0

25.9

26.8

11.9

11.2

18.9

19.0

Winnipeg

20118.020114.0AugustBRANDONAverage

4.5

AugustAverage

5.0

0.43.0

56.0

175.0

75.1 25.0 11.9 18.5

0.5

44.0 69.2 25.4 10.5 18.0

201117.0

39.0

28.1 13.3 20.7

0.0

115.0

69.0

26.5 12.4 19.5

20118.0SummerSummerAverage

8.5

0.5 124.0

145.7 25.4

12.6 19.0

Average

10.0

0.7 98.0

141.7 25.7

11.2 18.5

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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