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Split In Long-Range Forecasts

Another month has gone by and we are either about to enter spring or we have another month of winter left. As usual for the end of the month, we’ll take a look back at February’s weather and then peer ahead to see if we will see an early arrival of spring or if winter will hold on late this year.

February’s weather could best be described as up and down. We were either caught in a cold snap or we were experiencing spring-like days. It didn’t seem like there were any average days during the month. The month started off on a cold note, with overnight lows in the -26 C to -30 C range.

Temperatures then quickly warmed up with highs at a number of locations making it above 0 C on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of February. Then the roller-coaster temperature ride continued. Within a couple of days temperatures once again plunged back down, and overnight lows once again flirted with -30 C. These cold temperatures lasted for about a week before we once again saw temperatures soar. By February 13 high temperatures once again rose above the 0 mark at a number of locations, and over the next four days we saw several locations break record daytime highs. This pattern of cold and warm continued as temperatures fell back down into the -20s C by the 18th but pretty much stayed there until the end of the month.

When all of these highs and lows were added up it turned out that for eastern areas of agricultural Manitoba, February came in right around average for temperature. Farther west it was a little cooler with the Brandon region coming in about 1 below its long-term average. Farther north, in the Dauphin region, temperatures were even cooler, with the average temperature for February coming in a full 2 below average.

As far as prec ipi tat ion amounts went for February, it was mostly good news. Western regions saw only light amounts during the month with the area around Brandon recording only about six mm of water-equivalent precipitation. Farther north amounts were a little higher, coming in right around average in the Dauphin region with about 15 mm of moisture. Over in the east the story was similar, with the Winnipeg region also seeing about 15 mm of moisture – which is right around average.

One thing I noticed during the month of February was the snow drifts around my place. While I have seen bigger drifts in previous years, I did notice that this year’s big drifts are not in their usual locations. Instead of seeing large drifts forming from strong northerly

winds, most of my drifts are in locations formed by strong southerly winds. I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed this or whether it is just a local thing, but I do find it interesting. When I checked out what the predominant winds were during February, interestingly enough, they were from the south, with about half the days in February recording predominantly southerly winds.

OK now on to our March forecast, but first, let’s see who was best able to predict the near-to below-average temperatures and precipitation amounts recorded in February. Looking back it appears that we could either give the nod to Environment Canada or us here at theCo-operator.EC called for near-average temperatures and precipitation amounts pretty close, maybe a little off on the temps. Here at theCo-operator,I had called for slightly below-average

temperatures with near-average amounts of precipitation. I had also pointed out that we will likely see a couple of cold snaps during the month separated by short warm snaps. I leave the final judgment to you.

Looking ahead to March it seems that our long-range forecasters are split. Both the CanadianandOld Farmers Almanacsappear to be calling for near-to above-average temperatures during March, along with below-average amounts of precipitation. Over at Environment Canada they are not as optimistic, as they are calling for below-average temperatures for the month, along with above-average amounts of precipitation, especially over southern regions.

Here at theCo-operator I’m afraid I have to go along with EC, at least for the temperatures. Currently it looks like our pattern over the last couple of weeks will continue at least to the middle of the month and possibly longer. While temperatures will naturally warm during the month, overall we’ll see below-average temperatures with a possible switch to warm conditions late in the month.

Precipitation is always tough to forecast. Right now it looks like most of the moisture will stay to our south over the next couple of weeks, with only light amounts of precipitation expected in our region. My worry is that as we slowly warm up during March, the active southern storm track will push north bringing us some significant storms late in the month. Hopefully we’ll see a switch in the general pattern before then and we will end up having a cool but dry March!

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Currentlyitlookslikeourcurrentpatternover thelastcoupleofweekswillcontinueatleastto themiddleofthemonthandpossiblylonger.

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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