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Warm and wet or warm and dry

The next question is – what will December have in store for us this year?

After a spring and summer period that saw five months in a row with below-average monthly temperatures, we have now almost finished a complete 180. Since August, we have experienced four months in a row with above-average temperatures. This has basically gone unnoticed because it occurred during the fall period, and for some reason, we just don’t pay as much attention to the weather in the fall. As long as there are no early frosts or snowstorms we tend to sit back and wait for winter to arrive, maybe taking advantage of the odd really nice day.

Another reason the current warm spell has gone unnoticed is that, while it has been milder than average, with the exception of November, there were no months that were way above average. For the most part we were seeing monthly temperatures ranging from 0.5C up to 1.0C above the long-term averages. These values jumped in November, as all three of our main centres reported well above-average temperatures during the month.

The warm spot for November was Dauphin, which recorded a mean monthly temperature of -3.4C, 2.2C above average. Both Winnipeg and Brandon had monthly temperatures that were 1.5C above average. Brandon’s mean monthly temperature for November was -4.1C while Winnipeg was a little milder at -3.8C.

Precipitation during November was not as uniform as the temperature. The western and northern parts of agricultural Manitoba saw belowaverage amounts of precipitation, while the south-central and southeast saw precipitation amounts that were well-above average. In between was the happy medium where average amounts of precipitation were reported.

The Dauphin region reported about 15 mm of precipitation during the month, while the Brandon region was the driest, with only nine mm of precipitation reported. At both of these locations most of the precipitation fell in the form of snow. This is in stark contrast to the south-central and southeastern region where, in Winnipeg for example, over 45 mm of precipitation fell, with a good majority of this coming in the form of rain or freezing rain. Some locations in this region saw amounts as high as 75 mm.

Now how did this compare to what our different long-range forecasters predicted? It looks like no one was 100 per cent correct. The closest two forecasts were from the Old Farmers Almanac and us here at the Co-operator. The OFA called for above-average

temperatures together with below-average precipitation – correct for the western part of the province. Here at the Co-operator we also called for above-average temperatures, but went with above-average precipitation – correct for the eastern part of the province.

The next question is – what will December have in store for us this year? It is always a tough call trying to predict the weather a month in advance, but there are often certain things that can help. For example, a deep snowpack will often lead to colder conditions while a lack of snow cover can help to moderate temperatures. This year we are heading into December with very little snow cover, which could mean that our warmer-than-average conditions will continue. We have also gone four months in a row with above-average temperatures, so it is about time to have a switch in the weather pattern, but just when and what the pattern will be is still up in the air.

Looking at Environment Canada, they are calling for below-average temperatures along with near to slightly above-average amounts of precipitation. Over at the Old Farmers Almanac they are calling for below-average temperatures with a cold start to the month and a mild end. In between, they are expecting near-average amounts of precipitation. The Canadian Farmers Almanac looks like it is calling for near-average temperatures as they use the word fair a lot. It also looks like they are calling for above-average amounts of precipitation with the prediction of a snowstorm right before Christmas bringing upwards of 30 cm of snow.

Finally, here at the Co-operator I am calling for near-average temperatures with temperatures cooling down significantly during the first half of the month, and then moderating during the second half. As I have pointed out repeatedly, precipitation forecasts for a month are always very difficult and during the winter it is even harder since we get most of our precipitation from only one or two storms. This means one storm can take a belowaverage month and make it above average. I guess I can’t stall any more; I’m going to take the middle road and call for near-average amounts of precipitation. So far I don’t see any signs of a significant storm during the first half of the month, so if we are going to see some significant snow it will be during the second half. Heck, maybe our friends at the Canadian Farmers Almanac will be right and we will finally see that Christmas snowstorm that I have being writing about over the last few years!

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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