It may seem a little simplistic, but chances are, if we experience several months in a row with below-average temperatures, we will see several months in a row with above-average temperatures. After seeing six straight months of below-average temperatures from February through to July 2008, we have now seen three months in a row of above-average temperatures.
If I was to summarize October for most of agricultural Manitoba, I would have to say it was mild and wet. While it was a warmer-than-average month, the interesting thing was that the daytime highs were not exceptionally warm. Usually, when we experience a milder-than-average October, the main reason is that there was an extended period of very mild days with high temperatures in the low to mid-20s. This year we did not see that. Instead, what we saw were average to slightly above-average daytime highs and really warm overnight lows.
Frost was a strange word to hear this month. In years past we would see October frosts on almost every night, but this year, October frosts were rather sporadic. When we did see a frost it never seemed to last long and it often wouldn’t be a “killing frost” that finished everything off – heck, I have petunias that are still going!
When we look at the actual numbers, both Winnipeg and Dauphin turned out to be the hot spots, with mean monthly temperatures running a full 1.5C above their long-term averages of 5.3 and 4.7C respectively. Brandon, while still above average, was a little cooler, with a mean monthly temperature of 5.5C, only 0.5 above average.
While we saw plenty of October warmth this year, what we didn’t need to see was all the rain. With the exception of the far northwestern part of agricultural Manitoba and the area around Dauphin, most regions saw between 40 and 80 millimetres of rain during the month (the long-term average would be around 35 mm). During the hot, sunny months of summer this would have been welcomed rain, but even with the mild weather, October is not noted for its exceptional drying conditions. So with all the rain, a fair number of areas are going into winter pretty wet.
When we look at the actual numbers, both Winnipeg and Brandon came in with around 55 mm of rain during the month. The Dauphin region was a little drier, with a total of about 35 mm. Some areas saw some really heavy rains. From this week’s map you can see that the area south of Morden and in the extreme southeast saw rainfall amounts in excess of 70 mm. Looking at all the data, the highest amount I was able to find was from around St. Leon, where upward of 100 mm fell during the month. Now that’s a lot of rain!
As always, the fun part of this article is figuring out who was best able to predict the previous month’s weather. Well, it seems like it was us here at the Co-operator who finally got it right, with the prediction of above-average temperatures and near-to above-average precipitation – no one else was even close! I haven’t looked back on each month yet, but it seems like the Old Farmer’s Almanac is going to have to do some fancy math if it’s to finish off the year with its stated 80 per cent accuracy.
OK, now summer is over and fall, for the most part, is coming to an end. So we are now facing the second-biggest weather question of the year: what will the winter be like? First, let’s take a look at November. Environment Canada calls for near-average temperatures, along with above-average precipitation. Interestingly enough, EC’s accuracy with precipitation forecasts during November is in the 60-70 per cent range. Over at the Old Farmer’s Almanac they are calling for – yep, you guessed it – warmer and drier than average. The good old boys (or girls) at the Canadian Farmers Almanac seem to be leaning toward colder-than-average conditions, along with above-average precipitation, as they mention cold fairly often, along with chances of significant precipitation. It should be noted that it did call for cold weather from the first through to the third of the month – oops!
Finally, here at the Co-operator, I am calling for near-to slightly above-average temperatures along with above-average amounts of precipitation. I think November is going to set the stage for the type of winter we are going to experience this year across southern and central Manitoba. We will see swings in temperature from above freezing to cool conditions, but I don’t see any record-breaking cold – at least, not yet. Along with these swings in temperature there will be plenty of chances for precipitation. Early on, we might see more rain than snow, but as we move deeper into winter we will see mostly snow… and a lot of it.
So I wouldn’t say we are in store for an old-fashioned Manitoba winter (I’m not too sure what that would be, anyway) but, while we might not be freezing our butts off, we might have to get into shape digging ourselves out!