Does this winter have a cold and snowy second act?

Daniel Bezte’s gut goes up against the almanacs and the weather models

OK, I heard you loud and clear: Instead of continuing our look at the top weather stories of 2019, you want to know what the latest and greatest weather outlooks are for the next couple of months. I must admit, I usually start off each month with the monthly look back and the view ahead, but for some reason, I got all excited and jumped into the top weather stories. So, for this article, we’ll step back and see what the weather models and forecasters predict for the rest of the winter.

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Before we dive into that topic, here are the final numbers for December across the Prairies. Starting off to our west, across Alberta, temperatures during December were near average across southern and northern regions, but were well-above average across central areas such as Edmonton. Precipitation was below average in both the Peace River and Edmonton regions, and was near average around Calgary.

Moving on to Saskatchewan, both Regina and Saskatoon came in between 1 and 1.5 C above the long-term average for the month. With the warmer-than-average temperatures came very little snow, with both locations seeing less than five mm of water-equivalent snowfall.

In Manitoba it was a similar story, just not quite as warm. Mean monthly temperatures measured at Dauphin, Brandon and Winnipeg all came in between 0.6 and 0.8 C above their long-term averages for December. The numbers would have been much warmer if not for the week-long cold snap that moved in during the second week of the month. Precipitation during the month was very light, with both Brandon and Winnipeg reporting around five mm of water-equivalent precipitation, and Dauphin only reporting a measly one mm.

Who called it?

So, overall, it was a warm and drier-than-average month right across the Prairies. Looking back at the different forecasts I am happy to say that December’s best forecast award goes to… us here at the Co-operator! My forecast (or guess) was the only one that called for both above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation.

Now, on to what we have all been waiting for: what might the next few months have in store for us weather-wise? As usual, let’s begin with the almanacs. The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac appears to call for a colder and drier-than-average January followed by near-average temperatures and snowfall in February. The Old Farmer’s Almanac calls for a colder and wetter-than-average January and February. Heck, it calls for colder-than-average temperatures and above-average precipitation all the way through to the end of April!

Moving on to the computer models, starting off with NOAA’s forecast: it seems to be singing from the same book as the Old Farmer’s Almanac as it too calls for colder-than-average temperatures along with above-average precipitation for the next three months. The CFS model also calls for colder-than-average temperatures in both January and February, but with the coldest readings compared to average occurring in January, with temperatures slowly warming to around average by the end of February, and near-average temperatures expected in March. The CFS precipitation forecast calls for near- to slightly above-average amounts in January and early February and then near to slightly below average in the second half of February and into March. The next weather model is the CanSIPS, or Canadian weather model, which calls for near- to slightly below-average temperatures in January and February, and slightly above-average temperatures in March. Its precipitation forecast calls for near-average amounts with maybe a slight lean toward above average in March.

Finally, my kick at the proverbial weather cat. After a very warm start to January it looks like a cool to cold second half of the month, which means January will likely end up with near- to slightly cooler-than-average temperatures along with near-average precipitation. That’s the easy part. To tell the truth, I have no real idea what February and March will be like. My gut, and I do mean my gut, is that we will see near-average temperatures in February along with near-average precipitation, followed by near-average temperatures in March, but with above-average precipitation. If I had to bet on this forecast, I would wage absolutely nothing, it is simply a guess.

Now, like every other time we look at the long-range forecasts, we’ll have to sit back and see just what Mother Nature will try to surprise us with this year.

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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