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Forecasts For The Rest Of The Winter

As we start the new year I have to admit that I haven’t had the time to go through all the weather data for 2010, so a complete summary of last year will have to wait until the next issue. Instead, we’ll take our usual look back at the previous month’s weather and then peer ahead to see what we should expect during the next few months of winter.

Unfortunately, we only have weather data for two of our three main centres during the month of December. For some reason, Dauphin’s data is not available through Environment Canada’s website and the data given on the Manitoba Agriculture website does not look to be correct. The data shown for Dauphin during December looks to have correct daytime highs, but the overnight lows are nearly all showing positive values. I’m not sure how a day could have a high of -15 C and an overnight low of +3 C! Since there seems to be a problem with the temperatures coming out of Dauphin, I am not sure how reliable the precipitation amounts are.

The Manitoba Agriculture report shows that Dauphin received 70.2 mm of precipitation during December, which would equate to over 100 cm of snow or about five times the average.

So, if we rely on our two remaining sites, Winnipeg and Brandon, it seems that December 2010 was a bit of a mixed bag across at least the southern parts of our province. The average monthly temperature at Brandon came in at -15.6 C, nearly a full degree below the long-term average. Over in Winnipeg the average monthly temperature was -14.1 C, which is around half a degree above average.

Looking at precipitation, we see a similar pattern. Brandon recorded about 28 mm of water-equivalent precipitation during the month, about eight mm above average. Over in Winnipeg things were a little drier. Winnipeg recorded 11 mm of water-equivalent precipitation, which was eight mm below the long-term average.

So, it looks like we have a split in the weather across southern Manitoba in December. The west was colder and wetter than average while the central and eastern parts (with the exception of the southeast) were warmer and drier.

HOW THEY DID

Looking back at the forecasts for December, Environment Canada was the only one calling for below-average temperatures. All the other forecasters including myself called for near-average temperatures. Considering the numbers we have, it is hard to say who was correct. Since no one was well below average and some places were near to slightly above average I think I would have to give the nod to the call for near-average temperatures.

For precipitation, it was also Environment Canada standing out alone when it forecasted near-average precipitation. Once again the other forecasters were all the same, and called for aboveaverage precipitation. With western, extreme-southern and far-eastern regions seeing above-average precipitation I think the nod will have to go to the forecasts calling for above-average precipitation. That means that theOld Farmer’s Almanac, Canadian Farmers Almanac,and we here at theCo-operatorwere the winners, though it definitely wasn’t a clean win.

LONG-RANGE FORECASTS

What do these forecasters predict for the upcoming months? It seems like we are seeing the same pattern from the forecasters as we did in December. Envi ronment Canada is going it alone with a call for near-average temperatures in January along with near-average precipitation. The remaining three forecasters are all calling for below-average temperatures in January. Both myself and theOld Farmer’s Almanacare also calling for below-average precipitation, while the Canadian Farmers Almanac is calling for well-aboveaverage amounts.

If we look further ahead to February, theCanadian Farmers Almanaccontinues with its call for below-average temperatures and well-above-average precipitation. In fact, they are calling for several storms over the next couple of months with amounts approaching 40 cm or more in some of the storms. TheOld Farmer’s Almanacis also calling for a continuation of cold weather in February, while EC and myself see temperatures around average. As for precipitation, all three of these forecasters are predicting near-average amounts in February.

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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