As we approach the 75th anniversary of weather observations at Winnipeg airport, let's take a retrospective look at the history of weather observing in Winnipeg.
Winnipeg's first official weather observations: St John's College (1872 - 1938)
|St Johns College|
Site of weather observing
program for Winnipeg
1872 - 1932
See November 1872 newspaper article mentioning appointment of James Stewart as official weather observer for the Winnipeg meteorological station. (last paragraph)
|Winnipeg in the 1870s|
Main St and Bannatyne
An August 1874 newspaper article details news of upgrades to St John's College including upgrades to the meteorological observatory. The article mentions the addition of a self-registering anemometer on a newly built tower at the College, which suggests that more detailed wind data for Winnipeg (including peak gusts) was available from the St John's College site as early as 1874. If you look closely at the photo of St John's College above, there appears to be an anemometer tower mounted on top of the left side tower of the college.
|1911 Winnipeg city map showing location of|
St John's College off Main Street (north is to the right)
|Manitoba Agricultural College|
U of M, Fort Garry
Weather observations were
taken here from 1932 - 1938
Winnipeg airport observations : March 1938 - present
|Winnipeg Intl Airport ca 1950s|
known as Stevenson Aerodrome
before it eventually became
Richardson Intl Airport (YWG)
Observing note: In September 1938, the wind anemometer at the Winnipeg airport was mounted on top of a hangar at a height of 20 metres (63 feet), twice the height of the internationally accepted standard of 10 m (33 feet) As a result, wind speeds from the Stevenson airport were somewhat higher than official standards from 1938 until Dec 1 1963, when the anemometer was lowered to the official 10 metre height at the new airport location.
Weather observing program moves towards automation: July 2008 - present
January 2013 - A change in automation and station ownership
On January 17 2013, the automated weather observations from YWG were switched to a new AWOS station operated by NavCanada, the agency responsible for aviation services in Canada. This signalled the first time that weather observations for Winnipeg airport were not the responsibility of the Meteorological Service of Canada, but a third party. This new weather observation station, known as an HWOS (Human Weather Observation System) relies on automated observations from the weather station, but still requires a human observer to input the observation (like the previous AWOS setup) Environment Canada still has a co-located weather station at the airport (Winnipeg A CS - XWG) although hourly weather information for Winnipeg (as displayed on Weatheroffice's "current conditions" city page) comes from the HWOS station. Note that only hourly data is available from this station, not daily or monthly climate statistics (this station is listed as "Winnipeg" on EC's climate website). As of Oct 2013, all official daily highs, lows and precip data for Winnipeg airport are from the Winnipeg A CS site (XWG station) which is operated by Environment Canada.
In summary, here are the list of official Winnipeg observing stations:
St John's College ...... March 1872 - July 1938 (daily & monthly data)
- includes data from Manitoba Agricultural College site 1932-1938
Winnipeg Intl A .......... March 1938 - July 2008 (hourly, daily & monthly data)
Winnipeg AWOS ....... July 2008 - Sep 2013 (hourly and daily data)
Winnipeg (HWOS) .... Jan 17 2013 - present (hourly data only - NavCanada site)
Winnipeg "A" CS ..... Oct 1996 - present (daily data, monthly data to 2008)
NOTE: As of Oct 2013, the Winnipeg A CS site (owned and operated by Environment Canada) is the official site for daily climate data for Winnipeg airport.
Other observing notes:
- Water equivalent for snowfall readings began on Nov 1 1960. Before then, water equivalent of snowfall was simply obtained by dividing the snowfall amount by 10.
- Prior to July 1 1961, the meteorological day for precipitation measurements was considered the 24 hr period from 630 am until 630 am of the following day. On July 1 1961, the meteorological day was changed to the synoptic day ending at 06 UTC for precipitation measurements. This correlates to midnight during standard time (Nov - Mar), and 1 am during daylight savings time (Mar - Nov)
In addition to the airport station, Environment Canada also has an automated station downtown at The Forks, which began operation in November 1999. This station has maintained the same automated observation program since inception.
Although equipment and reporting procedures have changed, Winnipeg residents can be rest assured that weather observations continue at Winnipeg airport maintaining a legacy of weather observing in this city that has spanned over 140 years.
Winnipeg weather extremes since 1872:
Hottest temperature: 42.2C July 11 1936
Coldest temperature: -47.8C Dec 24 1879
Greatest snow in 24 hours: 38.1 cm March 4 1935
Greatest rain in 24 hours: 152.4 mm June 26 1901
Highest wind gust: 129 km/h Feb 20 1965
Lowest windchill: -57 Feb 1 1996
Highest humidex: 47C Jul 25 2007