Spring forecasts ‘all over the place!’

So far this spring winter has been able to keep a fairly good grip on most of the three Prairie provinces. While there has been the odd day here and there with above-freezing temperatures, we haven’t seen any significant melting taking place yet. On the other side of the coin, with the exception of a few cold nights in some areas, we haven’t really seen any really cold temperatures either. We need to keep in mind that temperatures can still drop into the -30 C range for overnight lows well into March.

Don’t hold your breath hoping we’ll see an early melt like last year. First of all, there is a lot more snow across the Prairies this year compared to last. Secondly, the medium-range weather models that forecast out to near the end of the month don’t yet show any significant periods of warm weather. Put these two things together and it looks like we may see a more typical start to spring.

The big question at this time of year is always: What will this spring’s weather be like? For those of you who have read some of my weather columns you’ll know I love to explore long-range forecasts. I also love to point out the weather community’s ability to create accurate forecasts beyond 14 days is pretty weak. In fact, throwing a dart at a weather dartboard can create just as good a forecast as any of the long-range or seasonal weather models!

So, why do we even look at these? Well, for me, it’s kind of fun to see what all the different forecasts say. I also think it plays into our gambling sides. We find out what the different forecasts are and then we pick which one we think will be correct; we then sit back and wait to see what happens. If you end up backing the wrong forecast you start cursing all the forecasts, pointing out just how bad they are, and question the ability of the people who make the forecast. If you picked the correct forecast you pat yourself on the back for knowing which forecast was going to be right and proceed to let everyone know how brilliant you were! In either case it’s a win-win situation!

On the more serious side, knowing what the weather will be like a couple of months down the road could have a huge impact on the bottom line if you were able to plan ahead. Unfortunately, there are very few years where the accuracy of a two- to three-month forecast going into spring is going to be that accurate. This year, especially, does not look to be one of those years. There are no strong large-scale atmospheric drivers in place that tend to result in certain types of weather. Temperatures over the Pacific are around average, putting the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in a neutral position. So we’ll have to see what the forecasters say, then hope we bet on the right horse.

What the experts say

To start, Environment Canada calls for above-average temperatures over the southern Prairies, with near-average temperatures over central regions. Precipitation patterns are opposite of this, with near-average amounts expected over southern regions and above-average amounts over central areas.

Over at the Old Farmer’s Almanac, they call for near-average temperatures in April followed by a cold May and a cool June. April is expected to see slightly below-average amounts of precipitation, with May seeing near-average and June below-average amounts.

The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac is calling for near-average temperatures and precipitation in April, followed by above-average temperatures and precipitation in May. The warm weather is expected to continue into June with near- to above-average amounts of rain. Most of May’s and June’s rains are expected to come in the form of severe thunderstorms.

The Weather Network’s spring forecast calls for below-average temperatures over north-central Alberta and Saskatchewan with all other areas seeing near-average temperatures. Precipitation will be above average over central and eastern Manitoba and west-central Saskatchewan, with all other regions expected to see near-average amounts.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) spring forecast calls for near-average temperatures and precipitation amounts across most of the three Prairie provinces, with only extreme western Alberta seeing below-average temperatures.

Finally, my spring outlook, which is simply my gut feeling, is that we will see below-average temperatures to start April, along with above-average amounts of precipitation. This will switch or flip dramatically to a warm and dry pattern in either late April or early May. Just remember, you too can create your own spring forecast and have pretty much the same chance of being correct as these!

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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