Monday, April 15, 2013

Another wintery blast over southern Manitoba.. 2013 poised to enter record books as latest spring in over 140 years

Conditions on Highway 15 east
of Winnipeg, Monday April 15 2013. 
Snow and strong winds led to poor
highway conditions and many accidents
(photo credit: @globalwinnipeg)
Old Man Winter refuses to ease his grip over the southern Prairies, with another wintery blast of snow and strong winds over southern Manitoba today.  The storm system, which pounded North Dakota with up to 45 cm of snow in Bismarck Sunday, swept into southern Manitoba early this morning, bringing 5-12 cm of snow to much of the Red River valley, including Winnipeg. The latest wintery blast accompanied by gusty north winds to 60 km/h produced treacherous road conditions, and led to several accidents, including one that claimed the life of a young woman in southeast Manitoba.

Snowfall totals reported today.. (COOLTAP observations from Env Canada)

Winnipeg ............... 7.8 cm
Oakbank ............... 8.6 cm
St Alphonse ........... 8.4 cm
Pinawa ................... 5.0 cm
Miami ................... 10.0 cm
Winkler ................. 12.0 cm

Snow in April in southern Manitoba is not unusual. It happens virtually every year. So today's wintery blast was not exceptional or unheard of for this time of year. But mid April snowfalls usually melt fairly quickly, leading to rapid warmups as the strengthening April sun warms up the Prairie soil.

But not this year.

90 day temperature chart
for Winnipeg to Apr 14
An unsually persistent cold weather pattern since early March has resulted in a deep and extensive snowpack over southern Manitoba lingering well into April, which has reinforced colder than normal temperatures all month. Today was the 36th consecutive day below normal in Winnipeg (March 9th was the last day above normal) and it appears that below normal temperatures will continue into next week. Incredibly, the temperature has yet to reach +5C this year at Winnipeg airport.. a mark usually reached by mid to late March. With no prospect for +5C the rest of the week, this year will mark the latest date in 141 years that Winnipeg has reached its first +5C of the year (records back to 1872)  The previous record latest date was April 15th 1950 (year of the historic Red River flood)  It should be noted that on average, Winnipeg sees at least 20 days above +5C in April.

Latest dates to hit +5C in Winnipeg (since 1872)

1.  Apr 24 2013 ...........  +5.5C
2.  Apr 15 1950 ...........  +5.6C
3.  Apr 12 1884 ...........  +6.1C
4.  Apr 11 1979 ...........  +5.2C
5.  Apr   9 1974, 1965, 1936 

The next milestone would be latest 10C reading. Currently, that record is April 30th 1893, during Winnipeg's coldest April on record. There has never been an April in Winnipeg since 1872 that didn't reach double digits at least once. Normally, we see at least 15 days above 10C in April.

Latest dates to hit +10C in Winnipeg (since 1872) 

1.  Apr 30 1893 ........ 13.3C
2.  Apr 26 2013 ........ 15.0C
3.  Apr 25 1904 ........ 11.1C
4.  Apr 22 1884 ........ 11.7C
5.  Apr 21 1907 ........ 11.7C

The coldest April on record in Winnipeg was April 1893 at -2.9C. As of the 14th, the average April temperature for Winnipeg was -5.8C, which is a normal average for March, not April. (Normal April monthly temperature is +4.0C) Given that the next week to 10 days are expected to remain below normal and we still have an extensive snowpack, we could easily be looking at the coldest April on record this year.

Coldest Aprils in Winnipeg (since 1872) - average monthly temperature

1.   1893 ................ -2.9C
2.   1874 ................ -2.7C
3T  1907 ................ -2.1C
3T  2013 ................ -2.1C
5T  1950 ................ -1.6C
5T  1996 ................ -1.6C 
 
Finally, the latest loss of permanent winter snowcover in Winnipeg was April 26 1997, the year of the "Flood of the Century" (snowdepth records only go back to 1955 however) On average, Winnipeg loses its snowcover by April 5th. Last year, it was March 14th. As of this morning, Winnipeg airport was reporting a snowdepth of 28 cm. Again, given the below normal temperature outlook for the next 7-10 days, we could easily be looking at the latest loss of snowcover on record for Winnipeg. 

Comparison of ice and snow cover over southern MB
April 2012 (left) vs April 2013 (right)

Spring was a month early in 2012 vs a month late in 2013
photo credit: @daynavettese
Given the above statistics and the outlook for the next week to 10 days, this is truly looking like the latest spring Winnipeg has experienced in over 140 years. This is reflected by the fact that the Red River has still not started to rise, which will likely mean one of its latest flood peaks on record.  Or consider this sign.. Manitoba's provincial flower and harbinger of spring, the crocus, will likely not bloom in April, the first time in living memory that has happened. Truly, an exceptional spring that is destined for the record books (much like last year's spring was for early warmth!)             

58 comments:

  1. Very good and interesting discussion Rob. I certainly hope the pattern changes soon. I wonder what is the longest string of sub +10 C days on record for Winnipeg, given that the last time double digits were recorded was on 17-Oct-2012. In Southern Ontario, we are about 2-3 weeks behind the current average for the start of spring (ie. Old Skool Spring), and a good 6 weeks behind when compared with spring 2012.

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  2. Hmmm......something's definately off with precip amounts for Monday as according to the daily stats on E.C's website the YWG airport recorded no measurable precip which is obviously false.

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  3. Yeah, that is odd. That 0.0 mm value comes from the XWG auto station at YWG airport. It has a dry bias with measuring melted snow, but I'm not sure why it would report nothing for yesterday. The YWG NC-AWOS station had 3.5 mm of melted precip yesterday while the Forks had 4.3 mm. At my site, my 7.8 cm of snow melted down to 5.8 mm water.

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  4. Thanks Kuhny! This "spring" has been a tough one to accept after last year! We opened the backyard pool on April 25th last year, while this year it will still be full of snow and ice! I see Niagara was a nice balmy 20c yesterday while we were battling snow and blowing snow! I'm hoping Mother Nature makes up for it here with a long scorching hot summer! Enjoy your upcoming thunderstorms this week! (while we wait for our temperature to crawl above +5C!)

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  5. Great stats Rob.

    EC says a high of +2 today? Seems a little high perhaps.

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  6. @Garth:

    If the sun manages to poke out at all today, temperatures will probably bump up to 1 or 2C pretty quickly. It's cold, but it's still mid-April! The sun can do a whole lot of work nowadays...

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  7. Euro showing a high of +9C for Winnipeg by Apr 25th.. which is the warmest I've seen from that model all month. Ensembles also showing a more consistent warming trend for the end of next week into the last few days of April. I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll finally be seeing a warming trend by the end of the month, that will hopefully accelerate the snow melt. On the other hand, if the snow melt is too rapid, that could lead to serious impacts for the flooding situation. Will be a few tense weeks coming up along the Red and Assiniboine watersheds..

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  8. I've added a satellite photo comparison of southern MB between April 2012 and April 2013 to my blog post. The difference between these two successive years is remarkable.. particularly when you compare snow on the ground and lake ice cover. Lake Manitoba was already well on its way to being ice free by this time last year, and the south basin of Lake Winnipeg was already open on the west side. Snowcover had been absent for a month already over the south, with the snow line retreating to areas mainly north of the MB lakes by now. You really can't get more of a dramatic difference between two successive springs as we've seen over this past year.

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  9. It looks like Enviroment Canada has changed their format on their web page.

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  10. Daryl..

    That's correct. They came up with a new re-design of the Weatheroffice website that was launched today. I'll be curious to see what people think about it..

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  11. Well, we're not the only ones feeling the pain this spring. After getting a record 28" of snow a week ago, Rapid City SD is looking at another foot of snow today into tomorrow as another storm system comes out of Colorado. Regina SK still hasn't hit +1C this month and they have more snow on the ground than we do. So perhaps we can take come cold comfort knowing we're not alone in this prolonged winter of 2012-13.

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  12. New design of EC's website is nice Rob, I don't mind it at all. Too bad the 1981-2010 normals weren't released with the update as well..! At this rate, they'd might as well just start preparing for the 1991-2020 normals so at least those come on time!

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  13. The new site is quite nice. Looks like it is more spacious and a little easier to see at a quick glance. Would have been nice if the radar page could be enhanced. Maybe in the future.

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  14. Well Brad, we hit 0.9C. Close enough to the forecast of 2C. Good job to the EC forecasters when the models were pointing colder. That sun did feel nice.

    Wow, a full 10C below normal and we think it was a nice day. Like orphans happy for their daily gruel. Thanks Mother Nature.

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  15. You know it's been a long winter when you start listening to videos of the sound of heavy rain and thunder on youtube to get at least some feel that spring is here... That's what I've been doing this afternoon! We haven't had a good rain since October

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  16. Looks like our next precipitation event will be coming through on Sunday as a clipper tracks across southern MB. Could see a couple cm of wet snow depending on how mild we are that day with highs above freezing. Current "Mix of sun and cloud" forecast for Sunday does not properly reflect precip chances that day.

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  17. Particularly loving the new warnings page on the Weatheroffice redesign. No more is it that you see a warning for Manitoba only to realize it's where nobody lives!

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  18. New flood forecasts from NWS will be incorporating 14 day ensembles for more real time flood forecast updates. Click on my name for more details..

    http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=fgf&storyid=94032&source=0

    Note how much more precip southern basin of Red River has received over the past 6 weeks.. a big concern for Fargo.

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  19. Smart, but I assumed they did this already. Guess not. Our forecasters still use the climate data, then fudge best and worst case scenarios based on the upper and lower deciles.

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  20. G.. perhaps they did.. but it may be the first time the data is being presented to the public via web based graphical products. Not sure though..

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  21. For those who had high hopes that things will change next week, well you might want to hold off on those hopes because according to NAEFS release from today it clearly shows well below normal temps to continue for us through month's end.

    Rob, what are your thoughts on this?

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  22. Long range guidance has been showing a warmup by the middle to end of next week, with temperatures of +5-10C over much of southern MB. That's been a fairly consistent trend for a few runs now so I think a warmup is coming for mid to late next week. However, whether this is the beginning of a big pattern change, or just a temporary warmup remains to be seen. I do see that ensembles are showing a trend back to a neutral AO by the beginning of May, which may result in a less sustainable warmup. But too early to say at this point..

    One thing's for sure.. we need to get rid of this snow before we have any hope for warmth. Also, we'll be dealing with potentially major floodwaters over the RRV for much of May, which may also postpone or limit a sustained warmup.

    Or Mother Nature can pull a 180 and give us a sunny dry warm month that evaporates everything. Given her propensity lately for the extreme, I wouldn't rule it out.

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  23. NWS has updated their flood outlook for the Red River in North Dakota.. now indicating a >95% probability of major flood levels being exceeded everywhere on the Red from south of Fargo to Pembina.

    Click on my name for latest outlook released this afternoon..

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  24. Rob, with your best guess when do you think we'll start seeing thunderstorms in Southern Manitoba? Given the latest forecast for warmer weather within the next 3 weeks. I hope we start getting them in May, we have waited long enough for them...

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  25. Two comments: Firstly, the new EnviroCan website is not an improvement.... They decided to ditch the buttons on the home page for 'World WEather' and "USA weather". I used those extensively because of the superior maps, radar and charts.

    Secondly, I don't think I could ever, ever live on the prairies at all every again... I can't believe half the population hasn't slashed their own throats by now considering...

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  26. Mike..

    Generally, Winnipeg will see its first thunderstorm by the middle of May. Some years are earlier, some a little later.. but usually by mid May we could expect to see our first thunderstorm. This year may be later in May due to a delayed growing season, although you can always get one or two storms with an occasional surge of warm moist air from the south. Late May and June can become quite active as heat and humidity to our south tries to surge north more frequently.

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  27. Rob, though it might be tough too say for sure, but if you had to venture a guess, do you think this will be a more active severe weather season for us this year as opposed to the last 2 summers?

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  28. NOAA has teams of meteorologists and climatologists who try to forecast the hurricane season every year. In theory, it's much easier to forecast than thunderstorms, as ocean temps and general circulations patterns don't change as fast. Yet nearly every year they get it wrong. So.......

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  29. The GEM Global wants to give southern MB another 10-15ish cm of snow on Sunday night. Let's all cry uncle and wave white towels out our windows, and maybe Mother Nature will relent.

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  30. >>Anonymous said...Rob, though it might be tough too say for sure, but if you had to venture a guess, do you think this will be a more active severe weather season for us this year as opposed to the last 2 summers?

    Impossible to say. An active season will depend on adequate surface moisture, sufficient heat, and a persistent jet stream close by to provide ample shear and lift. Other than a good chance we'll have adequate surface moisture this year, we just don't really know how the other ingredients will play out this summer. And you really need all of them combining together to get an active season.

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  31. >> Garth said... The GEM Global wants to give southern MB another 10-15ish cm of snow on Sunday night. Let's all cry uncle and wave white towels out our windows, and maybe Mother Nature will relent.

    What do you know.. another snowfall for the Monday morning commute!

    Right now, GGEM is the wettest of the long range models, with other guidance and ensembles more in the 5 mm range with Sunday's system. It's a fairly weak clipper system moving across us fairly quickly, so that 10-15 mm from the GGEM appears overdone at this point. Also, temperatures will be slightly above zero, so there should be some melting.. so hopefully we can get away with a slushy 2 or 3 cm that goes away quickly. Any more than that, then yes.. I got the white towel ready! :)

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  32. Severe thunderstorm watch in Windsor right now. First one in Canada this year I believe.

    Dewpoint there is 15C right now

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  33. Makes me want to read "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder again. Seem to remember her chronicling blizzards from late October thru mid May that year, 1880-81.

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  34. Humidex of 28 in Windsor and Sarnia right now. Highest humidex this year in the country.

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  35. Interesting. The extended Meteocode for Winnipeg on Sunday evening/night shows 17-20 cm of snow. That timeframe is derived from the automatic SCRIBE forecast, which shows about the same. Good thing in this case that the extended public forecast doesn't indicate precip amounts, or people would be panicked.

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  36. TWN is forecasting 10cm of wet snow for Sunday.

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  37. Wow... humidex of 32C in St. Catharines (Niagara region)

    Temperature is 27C as well.

    Both are records in Canada this year.

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  38. Someone here was asking where TWN gets their current conditions. I'm wondering as well, since it matches neither the airport or The Forks. The current temperature would match The Forks (rounded) but winds, humidity, ext. match neither station.

    I checked a few other stations in MB and they also have wrong data. Strange that so many web sites can't even get the current conditions right. You'd think they'd care, because there are legal ramifications, but I guess not.

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  39. That -12°C tomorrow night is darn close to a record. Meanwhile, records highs are now getting into teh 30's.

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  40. Looks like we're reaching the 30's already, at least at the south Perimeter!

    http://imgur.com/4vrkLAg (or click my name)

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  41. It's really heating up at the Wheat Board too!

    http://imgur.com/ctPh3ed

    (no, it wasn't photoshopped)

    OK, stepping off my soapbox. Sorry Rob ;)

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  42. 27C in St. Catharines! It seems hard to imagine right now.

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  43. John Sauder says 10C next Thursday. That would be nice.

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  44. the weather network has 10 cm of wet snow for sunday! Hopefully we don't get that. also not only EC made a new website but the weather network also is going to make a new website.

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  45. Warmspot was Vineland, Ontario at 27.4C. Needless to say, that is the warmest temperature this year in Canada.

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  46. Wow, GEM GLB and REG both going all out there with a low of -20°C tonight. Highly doubtful; let's hope.

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  47. Rob, your extended forecast graphic on Robs Obs is still from Wednesday.

    Oh, I see it's from CBC MB and they are having the problem also on their site. Gremlins in the ether.

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  48. Rob, what's the latest as far as Sunday's storm is concerned? Are we looking snow, rain or both?

    also, is that that warmup for later next week still in the cards for us?

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  49. >> Anonymous said...Rob, your extended forecast graphic on Robs Obs is still from Wednesday. Oh, I see it's from CBC MB and they are having the problem also on their site. Gremlins in the ether.

    Yes, that forecast graphic comes from CBC, as does the radar thumbnail which is also old. I'd rather use one from EC, but they don't have a nice 7-day forecast or current radar image graphic to upload.

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  50. >> Anonymous said...Rob, what's the latest as far as Sunday's storm is concerned? Are we looking snow, rain or both?

    Still looks like a 5 cm-ish type of event coming in Sunday.. although GGEM hints it could be more, possibly up to 10 cm. Complicating issue is that snow arrives during day, and temperatures will be above freezing with some milder air ahead of system.. so there could be some rain mixed by afternoon. Models also hint at some instability, so there may also be a band of heavier snow at times which could accumulate quite rapidly (such as this past Monday morning) I'll try to have an updated post on this system by the end of today.

    As for that warmup next week.. unfortunately, latest long range models are backing off on it now, and delaying a warmup into the last days of April. It's possible we may be looking at our first ever April where we didn't hit 10C.

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  51. Looking at the 14 day trend graphic avbl at TWN, I believe we are on-track for the coldest April on record. Jepers!

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  52. Rob, I know this may be nonsense but is it possible that our weather is not warming up because I am checking all weather data & models every day? That saying that a watched pot never boils... I'd like to know thank's...

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  53. Well, as for that warmup, Brett Anderson of accuweather had never indicated that it would occur by midweek here next week. He has said that it would more likely be at the end of the week or into the last weekend of April which is what latest ensembles seem to be indicating which is still 8 days away. So, i'm not sure where he gets his info from but the consensus at least from accuweather that there was never belief from them at least of a big warmup by Wednesday next week. You here one thing from one source and another from the other source which makes you wonder who or what to believe at this point. Seems like we've been hearing of this so-called warmup for some time now and here we are still waiting for it. And then you have John Sauder who's forecasting 10 degrees next thursday or friday....seems to me he forecasted that about 2 weeks ago. With all that said, we all know that sooner or later it's gonna warmup....there's no way it can stay this right, at least I hope not.

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  54. What we're in now is just so extreme, it's hard to forecast. Even the models are being fooled into thinking a warmup is coming, because it's just normal to be warming by now. Unfortunately, we've barely warmed up at all in the past month which is just exceptional.

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  55. On April 15th, Brett Anderson put up a blog post mentioning a pattern change after the 24th (next Wednesday) with milder air moving in over the Prairies. He bases his long range forecasts pretty much exclusively on the ECMWF (European model) In recent days however, even that model has backed off somewhat on the extent and degree of warming expected over the eastern Prairies.

    Back in late March, I posted a stat that of the top 20 coldest Marches in Winnipeg, 18 (90%) were followed by colder than normal Aprils. Unfortunately, that was the best indicator of what kind of April we were in for. But even that didn't prepare me for how cold this April would turn out to be.

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  56. Rob, does this mean that this supposed warmup is not gonna materialize at least not for the remainder of this month?

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  57. I think it will, but it will likely be delayed until the last few days of the month, and even then.. it doesn't appear to be the start of a major change to an above normal pattern, at least based on the limited long range guidance I'm seeing. At this point, I've given up trying to figure out when this below normal pattern will end. If anyone has some insight, please let me know..

    On the plus side, I do see signs of more snow melt occurring, even with the colder than normal temperatures. More and more bare ground showing up in the city and some larger fields.

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  58. Temperature down to -6C at YWG airport as of 930 pm.. record low for April 20th is -13.2C in 1988. Will see how close we get to that.

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