Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Warm and windy Wednesday.. Burn ban in effect

A low pressure system tracking into southern Saskatchewan will bring a strengthening southerly wind across southern MB Wednesday , especially through Winnipeg and the Red River valley.  Southerly winds will increase to 40 or 50 km/h by mid morning with gusts to 70 or possibly 80 km/h by midday into the afternoon. The windy conditions will be accompanied by warm temperatures in the low 20s, and very low humidities of 15 to 20% leading to dangerous fire weather conditions.  Local grass or brush fires are possible, and a burning ban is in effect for much of southern and eastern MB. The strong winds may also lead to areas of blowing dust as dry topsoil gets blown around by the gusty winds.  Once winter snow cover is gone, April becomes a prime month for grass fires and blowing dust in the Prairies as strong gusty winds can combine with dry surface conditions to help promote fires and drifting topsoil. Increasing dewpoints, surface moisture, rainfall, and leaf/crop green-up in May and June help to reduce the threat of grass fires and blowing dust as the growing season progresses. However, grass fires can also flare up in the fall.. particularly in October at the end of the growing season and before the first snows of winter.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Chilly start to April

Woodlands radar at 11:50 am shows
squall line of heavy snow heading
towards Winnipeg from the northwest 
Winnipeg about half an hour later. Visibility
dropped to near zero in heavy snow for about
30 minutes leaving about 2 cm of fresh snow
(photo from @kirastorm)
After a springlike first day of April that saw temperatures climb to 16C in Winnipeg, the weather turned decidedly winterlike today across southern MB as a sharp cold front sliced across the region this morning, ushering in a strong push of Arctic air today. The front was accompanied by periods of snow, including a band that tracked across the city over the lunch hour producing near whiteout conditions in heavy snow, as well as gusty north winds and temperatures near-5C. The band gave a quick coating of about 2-3 cm of snow that whitened the bare landscape. Skies cleared by late afternoon, but that will allow temperatures to drop to well below normal values tonight as an Arctic ridge of high pressure builds southward. Overnight lows of -14C are forecast for Winnipeg, some 10C below normal for early April. (it's been worse though.. record low for April 3rd is a frigid -27.8C in 1932)  Unfortunately, it looks like we'll be locked in a cold pattern into early next week before we start seeing some moderation towards normal values later in the week. That will mean daytime highs struggling to get above freezing or the low single digits over the next few days, with lows in the -10C range. Luckily, no major snowfall is expected during this cold snap, with only some minor dustings expected from time to time as weak systems pass through. Look at the bright side.. this time last year, we still had 40+ cm of snow on the ground, and we wouldn't see bare ground until April 20th!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Some wintery weather for the first week of spring..

After a spring like end to winter this year, old man winter will be making a return visit this week as a series of weather systems track across the southern Prairies and northern Plains states. The first system tonight is fairly weak, and is bringing some snow to southern Saskatchewan as of this (Sunday) evening. This area of snow will track across southwest Manitoba and the Riding Mtns tonight into the Red River valley overnight into Monday morning. Generally 2-4 cm of snow is possible with this disturbance, with a coating of 1-2 cm possible for Winnipeg overnight into Monday morning. Not a lot of snow.. but our first taste of the white stuff in over two weeks for the Monday morning commute.. so be prepared for it (roads in the city should just be wet rather than snow covered, but there could be some slippery sections, especially outside the city) 

Forecast probabilities of snowfall 10+ cm
Tuesday into Wednesday Mar 24-25th

Things get more interesting Tuesday into Wednesday as a stronger storm system tracks across Montana into North Dakota. This system is forecast to spread an area of heavier snow over southern Saskatchewan Tuesday which will be spreading into SW Manitoba, western Parklands and Interlake areas by Tuesday afternoon/evening. Temperatures will be warmer (above freezing) over Winnipeg and the RRV as well as SE Manitoba, so precipitation will likely begin as rainshowers later Tuesday before changing over to snow Tuesday night into Wednesday.  Snow is expected to continue much of Wednesday before tapering off Wednesday night. Snowfall amounts with this system will vary widely across southern MB, but at this time it appears the bulk of snow will be over the Riding Mtns and Interlake areas (possibly 10-20 cm) with lesser amounts over the RRV and SE MB (5-10 cm?). However, changes in the storm path and intensity could result in heavier amounts elsewhere. Stay tuned on this developing storm system as it brings a potentially significant snowfall over portions of southern Manitoba by mid week.

This photo montage from @JoshWright nicely chronicles
progression of snowcover in Winnipeg area over
the past couple of weeks

Storm snowfall update: (as of 9 am March 25th) 

Winnipeg ................ 5 cm
Portage La Prairie .... 5-10 cm
Brandon .................. 6 cm
Steinbach ................ 5 cm

Dauphin .............  15-25 cm
Rossburn ............. 20 cm
McCReary ........... 18 cm
Hodgson .............. 18 cm
Gilbert Plains ........ 15 cm
Neepawa ............. 15 cm
Roblin .................. 14 cm
Rivers ................... 10 cm
Miami ..................... 6 cm
Pinawa .................... 5 cm
Morris .................... 2 cm

Friday, March 13, 2015

Record warm March weekend for Winnipeg and southern MB!

Spring has sprung in southern Manitoba, with well above normal temperatures this week bringing a quick melt of the snowcover over much of the area. And the best is yet to come as even warmer air spreads across the southern Prairies this weekend, likely bringing record high temperatures in the teens over much of southern Manitoba including Winnipeg. The record high for Saturday (14th) for Winnipeg is 11.4C set in 1981 while Sunday's record high is 14.4C set during the record warm March of 2012. Both records are likely to fall in the city as temperatures reach the low to mid teens this weekend. In fact, it's possible some areas of the Red River valley may approach 20C on Sunday!!  Incredible to think we were locked in a deep freeze until this week, with temperatures still dipping well into the minus 20s during the first week of March. Slightly cooler but still mild weather is expected for next week. So get out and enjoy this fabulous weekend.. as spring has sprung early in southern Manitoba!      

CAUTION!:  City of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Police Service are reminding people that the mild temperatures through this weekend are making ice conditions on rivers and creeks extremely unstable and very unsafe. DO NOT attempt to walk on ice covered rivers, creeks or ponds as ice will be quickly deteriorating in the very mild temperatures. Remind children of this hazard.. we don't want this beautiful weekend turning into a tragedy.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Snow likely for southern MB by Friday into the weekend.. but nothing like the Maritimes!

While the Maritimes digs out from its third major blizzard in a week (55+38+46 = 139 cm of snow in Moncton within the past 7 days!), residents of Winnipeg and southern Manitoba are beginning to forget what a snowstorm even looks like.  It's been over a month since Winnipeg's last major snowfall (12 cm Jan 2-3rd) and since then, snow has been meagre with a few minor snowfalls of 2 cm or less totalling 5 cm since then. In fact, there have been only 2 storm systems this winter in Winnipeg that have produced more than 5 cm of snow.. a 9 cm snowfall on Nov 28-29th, and the 12 cm snowfall Jan 2-3rd.  Other than that.. minor snowfalls now and then have brought our winter seasonal snowfall up to 46 cm as of the end of January.. some 26 cm below the average of 72 cm by Jan 31st (average seasonal snowfall in Winnipeg to May is 114 cm)  Last year we had accumulated 104 cm by the end of January with a total snowfall of 153 cm by the end of April. While the lack of snow has been great for travel and spring flooding concerns, it's turning into a major disappointment for storm lovers and outdoor enthusiasts such as snowmobiles and skiers who would like to see a deeper snowpack (current snowdepth is 12 cm vs 40 cm last year at this time).

So is there any snow in the forecast? Well, it appears that we may be seeing some new snowfall by the end of the week into the weekend as a couple of clipper systems track across the southern Prairies into the northern US plains. On Friday, an area of snow is expected to spread across southern MB as a system tracks across Montana into the Dakotas, with perhaps 2-5 cm for Winnipeg, and 5 cm or so over SW Manitoba. Another clipper will track across southern MB on Saturday with another 5 cm of snow or so possible. While these aren't major storm systems, they will likely result in poor travelling conditions once again after a month of almost snowfree conditions.

UPDATE: (Friday's first clipper system appears that it will just brush Winnipeg with a dusting to 2 cm, with up to 5 cm possible over SW Manitoba. Model guidance is now trending higher with snowfall amounts later Friday into Saturday with the next clipper system, now showing perhaps 10 cm or more possible for Winnipeg. Stay tuned on this developing situation.