Forecast: Is spring fighting its way in early?

Covering the period from February 19 to February 26

This map shows how much precipitation the Prairies have received compared to average since Sept. 1. While much of Saskatchewan and Manitoba have seen very little snow so far this winter, the heavy late-fall snows and rains mean that so far this agricultural year, most of the Prairies are reporting either near- or above-average amounts of precipitation. There are a couple of drier-than-average areas, in north-central Saskatchewan and Alberta’s far northern Peace region.

As I pointed out at the beginning of last week’s forecast, when there is a switch in the weather pattern, the devil is in the details and we definitely noticed that last week. The weather models correctly forecasted a couple of outbreaks of cold arctic air. What they failed to get right was just how strong and quick that first push of arctic air was going to be. A very strong cold front moved through southern and central regions late last Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, bringing a thankfully short lived but fairly brutal outbreak of cold air.

For this forecast period, it looks like the weather models point toward a shift back to a much warmer pattern. It is beginning to look like spring is trying to make an early arrival this year with these extreme back-and-forth battles between cold and warm air. To start this forecast period, we will be sandwiched between a large area of high pressure to our southeast and an area of low pressure tracking across the northern Prairies. This will result in a fairly strong westerly flow of mild air across the southern and central Prairies. Expect daytime highs to slowly rise each day, with readings of 0 C — or even some above-zero readings — occurring by Friday. These mild temperatures look like they will last right through the weekend. We may see the odd flurry Friday or Saturday as the northern low drops down into northwestern Ontario.

For early next week the weather models show a weak area of arctic high pressure that will slowly sag southward, bringing more seasonable temperatures to our region. Expect daytime highs to slowly drop back down to the -10 C range with overnight lows around -17 C. Currently, the weather models show no significant snowfall during this time frame. Looking further ahead, there is some indication we will see a return to high temperatures, at or above freezing, by the end of the month.

Usual temperature range for this period: Highs, -17 to -3 C; lows, -30 to -11 C.

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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