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Not The Coldest Spring Ever

Table 1. January to June mean temperatures Table 2. March to May (C) 2009

Winnipeg Brandon

Dauphin

Table 3. 2009 versus 1979, mean C

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Mean C 1979

-27.2

-30.9 -14.7

-16.0 -9.4

-6.9 2.7

1.4 7.7

8.2

Dauphin

2009

1.2

0.3 0.3

Mean C 2009

-18.4

15.6

Mean C 1979

-23.7

-23.3 -10.3

-2.3 7.7

16.3

Recent

-1.7, 1996

-1.4, 1979 -1.9, 1979

Brandon

Mean C 2009

-19.8

-15.6 -10.0

2.9 8.0

10.1

Going way back

-2.4, 1883

-2.5, 1899 -2.5, 1922

Winnipeg

Mean C 1979

-22.5

-22 -9.9 -0.6 7.4

16.2

Mean C 2009

-20.2

-14.6 -7.8

3.2 8.2

10.4

Winnipeg Brandon

Dauphin

-3.5C

-4.1C -3.7C

-5.4C, 1950

-6.5C, 1883

-5.9C, 1979 -6.2C, 1950

-5.8C, 1899 -4.4C, 1936

Recent Going way back

Ithink we have to take a break from looking at thunderstorms and step back and see just how bad the weather has been this past spring and even the past year. I’ve been listening to a lot of people talking about this year’s cold weather and nearly everyone I listen to seems to think that this year has been the coldest start to a year that they can ever remember. Well, I hate to be the party-pooper, but the weather statistics do not seem to agree.

I crunched the numbers a number of different ways and the only period that we are the coldest for is for the first week in June and even then, while we did break some daily records for overnight lows, none of our three main centres (Winnipeg, Brandon, Dauphin) broke any all-time record lows for June. Looking at the killing frost that was widespread across agricultural Manitoba on June 6, 2009, here are the readings that were recorded and how they compared to historical values.

Winnipeg: Coldest overnight low occurred on June 1, 1886, when it dropped down to a bone chilling -6.1C. The overnight low reading of -4.6C on June 6 this year was the latest killing frost ever recorded for the city.

Brandon: They have seen the temperature drop to -3.9C twice: once on June 13, 1969 and then a second time that same year on June 20 – now that’s a late killing frost! The coldest temperature recorded this June was -2.4C.

Dauphin: Like Winnipeg, its coldest June temperature was -6.1C recorded on June 1, 1929. The reading of -4.4C this June was the second-coldest reading for the month, and was the third latest occurrence of a killing frost (other killing frosts occurred June 8, 1982 and June 13, 1969).

No matter which way you look at the start of June, it was just plain cold. Winnipeg seemed to be the coldest of our three main regions during this period as it twice beat its record for the coldest mean daily temperature and also recorded the latest-ever killing frost.

So the first week of June was cold and we know the whole first half of 2009 has been below average; now the question is, has this been the coldest first half of a year since records began? Well, to be short and sweet: not even close. So far for the period of January to June 14 of this year, Table 1 shows us the average values for our three main centres. I have also included a couple of cold years to which we can compare this year, and as you can see, this year is not even close to being the coldest. Remember, we still have a couple of weeks left in June, so our average temperature will increase by at least a half a degree.

Now, maybe some of those really cold years had really cold winters that influence the numbers. While we had a cold winter this year, it wasn’t that bad. So in Table 2, let’s take a look at the actual spring numbers, which are from March to the end of May.

Once again, while we were cold, we didn’t even come close to breaking a record for this period. The most recent year that was at least this cold or even colder was back in 1979. I thought it would be interesting to see how that year and this year compared, and then how the summer of 1979 played out. Have a look at Table 3.

The only month this year that’s colder than 1979 is June, but once again, we still have a couple of warm weeks left and our mean monthly temperature will likely go up by several degrees during that period.

Looking at the second half of 1979, July and September were warmer than average while August was cooler. The October to December period was very cold that year, so let’s hope we see the warm July and September and skip the cool months.

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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