We’re Cool, But Not Record Breaking

The weather page is prepared by Daniel Bezte. Dan has a BA Honours degree in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He has taught climate and weather classes at the U of W, and is a guest climate expert on CJOB’s morning show with Larry Updike. Daniel runs a computerized weather station on his 10 acres near Birds Hill Park, which he plans to develop into a small vegetable and fruit hobby farm.

Daniel welcomes questions and comments at [email protected]

Well, I finally made it back from my three-week camping trip through Ontario and I promised that when I did get back I would take a deeper look into the cold weather that we’ve been having this year to see if we have broken any long-term records.

First of all, we know that we have broken a record for the most consecutive months of below-average temperatures, with eight months in a row. Right now, the jury is still out as to whether it will be nine in a row. So far, August is a little bit below average, and with a cool week ahead, followed by what looks to be an average to a little above-average week after that, it is going to be close! But besides this record, have we broken any other records for cold this year?

To begin with, monthly records are easy to check and we have three different temperature records we can review. First, there are average daytime highs for the month, then there are the average daytime lows, and finally, there is the mean monthly temperature for the month – which often gives a similar result as taking the average of the high and low temperatures for the month.

When we look at the numbers for every month, so far this year I could not find one single monthly record that was broken. The only record that was close, was the average overnight low for July in Winnipeg. In 1972, the average overnight low during July in Winnipeg was 10.1C, while this year the average was a very close at 10.2C.

OK, so we haven’t broken any monthly records. How about if we look at several months together? After all, hasn’t this cold spell been going on for over eight months? To do this, I averaged the numbers for several different monthly periods. I looked at the whole period of cold weather we have been having (January July), I also looked at the following spring/summer periods:

April July May July June July

When I examined all of these numbers, I was a little surprised to see only one record that was broken. Like the close record the Winnipeg region had in July, once again, it was an overnight low record and it occurred for the period of May July in…you guessed it, the Winnipeg region. During this period, the average overnight low was 6.9C which broke the previous record of 7.0C that occurred in the infamous cold summer of 2004.

So while it has been cool this year, it really hasn’t been a record-breaking cold. But when you are trying to grow crops that require a significant amount of heat units, knowing that we haven’t broken any cold records really doesn’t help.

When I looked at all the different cold records (36 different records in total) for our three main areas, I found that there were only a handful of years that accounted for nearly all of the records. The most infamous one was 2004, when summer finally decided to arrive in September, but 2004 did not claim the most records for cold. That title belonged to the year 1950, when nine different records for cold were broken, with most of these coming in the January to July period and the April to July period.

The next year with the most records was 2004 with seven records. This was followed closely by 1969 which had six cold spell records. Interestingly, 1969 followed closely on the heels of our next coldest year – 1967, which claimed four records. So there is some evidence in the past for long periods of cool weather.

Our next record holders all accounted for three records each, and they were the years 1992, 1979 and 1945. Finally, to finish off we had one cold record from 1993 in Brandon, when the June to July average daytime high was a cool 20.3C (this year it was 22.5C).

Next week we’ll go back to our look at clouds and begin examining each type of cloud in detail, with the goal of understanding what kind of weather we can typically expect from each type of cloud.

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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