Is there a cold, snowy March ahead?

Another month has come and gone as we slowly make our way toward spring. So far we have made it through the three official months of winter, and if you were to listen to the general population talking you’d think it was a cold, nasty winter. So, let’s look back and see just how cold and nasty this winter was.

December started off very warm, with high temperatures above the 0 C mark in most locations on the first three days of the month. Cooler weather settled in during the second week of the month before we saw a return to mild weather in the week leading up to Christmas. Over the Christmas holidays the bottom fell out of the thermometer and we saw temperatures plummet to around -30 C for overnight lows. We saw a slight recovery during the last five days of December, but overall, the month ended up being slightly below average.

Milder weather continued into the first two weeks of January before the coldest cold snap in a couple of years moved in, and we saw temperatures drop into the mid-minus 30s on several nights during the third week. Even with this extreme cold snap, the month of January actually ended up being slightly above average thanks to the mild weather during the first couple of weeks.

Now on to February, which started off bitterly cold with Feb. 1 recording the coldest mean temperatures since back in January 2009. These cold temperatures continued for the first two weeks before slightly milder air moved in during the middle of the month. This milder air didn’t take control of the weather, as we saw mild days interspersed with colder days. Finally, during the last week of the month, mild air moved in to stay for a little while as we saw high temperatures flirt within the 0 C mark on most days. When all was said and done, the month came in pretty close to average. At Winnipeg, one of the few Environment Canada stations still reporting daily data, the mean monthly temperature was -13.5 C, which was 0.1 C above average. Looking at some of the more rural stations, temperatures were a little colder, with mean monthly temperatures coming in around -14 C, or a little below average.

So, for the official winter of 2012-13 we have seen temperatures right around average. Precipitation this winter appears to have come in around the same. Despite a lot of people talking about just how much snow there has been this winter, the overall amount for the entire three winter months is right around average, at least for central and eastern regions. Farther west, amounts are little above average. December saw above-average amounts of precipitation while January came in right around average. February was drier than average despite the blizzard that hit southern regions on the 17th and 18th. Take all this into account and we ended up with near-average amounts of precipitation this winter.

Who called it for February?

Overall, the winter of 2012-13 was an average winter. The problem is, we haven’t seen an average winter in a while and it always amazes me just how quickly we forget just what winter can be like. Looking at just February, it came in near to slightly below average in temperature and below average in precipitation. If we look back at the different forecasts we find that the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac, and we here at the Co-operator all called for near- to below-average temperatures and precipitation. So I guess we have to call it our first three-way draw.

The next big question is, how will our spring weather be? Unfortunately, that will have to wait until the next issue. For this issue you’ll have to settle with the extended forecast for the rest of March.

According to Environment Canada, March will see near- average temperatures along with near-average amounts of precipitation. Over at the Old Farmer’s Almanac they call for slightly above-average temperatures and near-average amounts of precipitation. After looking at the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac it would appear they call for near- to slightly above-average temperatures, as they mention rain a few times along with fair conditions. As for precipitation, it looks like they call for near-average amounts.

Finally, here at the Co-operator, I’m calling for a colder-than-average March. The medium-range models are not showing any big warm spell right through to the third week of the month and, in fact, some of them are showing a mid-month cold snap. Precipitation looks like it will be above average, since colder March weather will often be accompanied by stormy conditions. All I can say is I hope I am wrong and the Old Farmer’s Almanac is right!

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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