Wednesday, January 01, 2014

December 2013 second coldest in 120 years in Winnipeg.. 6th coldest on record

Even hearty Winnipeggers had
enough of the cold in December
(image - Winnipeg Free Press)   
The stats are in.. and the relentless cold of December 2013 helped make it one of the coldest Decembers on record in Winnipeg. The average temperature for the month (as recorded at Winnipeg airport) was a frosty -20.9C.. over 7C below the normal December average of -13.5C (1981-2010 average)   It was the coldest December in Winnipeg since 2000 which was the 3rd coldest December on record at -22.0C.  Other than that, you'd have to go back 120 years to December 1893 to find a colder December in the city (-21.4C)

Coldest Decembers on record in Winnipeg (since 1872)

   YEAR .....  Average temp

1.  1879 ....... -26.0C    
2.  1872 ....... -22.6C
3.  2000 ....... -22.0C
4.  1876 ......  -21.8C
5.  1893 .....   -21.4C
6.  2013 .....   -20.9C

(1981-2010 Dec average .... -13.5C) 

Winnipeg Dec 2013 temperature graph
Mild days were few and far between 
After a few days of relatively mild weather to start the month, the weather turned sharply colder by the 5th after a storm system tracked across southern Manitoba bringing about 15-20 cm of snow to Winnipeg and 25 cm across parts of southern Manitoba. That would usher in a 10 day spell of below normal temperatures, including a record cold -37.3C reading on the 15th. After a brief warmup on the 16th, temperatures dropped below normal again until Christmas holidays which were relatively mild. The Yuletide respite however was replaced by a month end cold spell that sent temperatures plummeting to -37.9C on the 31st.. the coldest December reading in Winnipeg since 1933. 

Snowfall for the month (as measured at my site in Charleswood) totalled 40 cm for the month, with 2 main snowfalls dumping 15 cm on the 4th, and 13 cm on the 26th-27th.  Seasonal snowfall to the end of December was 66.6 cm, compared to a normal 51 cm by Jan 1st.  All in all, a long cold month that felt more like January than December. 


  1. Now that we had January in December, we can have December in January....well I at least hope it will work out that way!!

  2. Rob, the media is having a field day with this cold snap. Colder than North pole??? Colder than MARS?? Well some things may be true, but they like to twist and distort facts. Ok, so Winnipeg was colder than very localized spots...

    I appreciate you laying down the hard numbers and tell it as it is. I found some of these news outlets just like to throw around numbers!!

  3. Yeah.. My pet peeve is when the media throws around wind chill numbers as actual temperatures. As if we really hit -50C in Winnipeg. NOT! Don't give me exaggerations.. just give me the facts.

  4. NAM has come down again with snowfall amounts for Friday.. now showing about 5 cm of snow, while GEM has ramped up a bit to about 8 cm. So still going with a general 5-10 cm for Friday, starting about midnight-3 am, and lasting into Friday evening. Gusty south winds will give blowing and drifting snow for the morning commute Friday with reduced visibilities before winds drop off in the afternoon. Additional snow possible Friday night into early Saturday as we get behind the system.

  5. Now I know the temperature display in a car isn't very precise, but; driving home tonight going westbound on Grant, the car displayed -30°C. After passing Shaftesbury, in the span of a minute it dropped to -35°C in the middle of the Assiniboine Forest, right back up to -30°C once I had passed it!

  6. Could this be one of those systems that surprise everyone again with a little more snow than projected?? Regardless I have a feeling I will be needing the snowblower again, with this strong wind anticipated.

  7. Rob said: My pet peeve is when the media throws around wind chill numbers as actual temperatures. As if we really hit -50C in Winnipeg. NOT!

    This really bugs me too. A fellow I work with always does this and I correct him every time. Drives him nuts but what the beck, it's not -50, it's its -35 with a breeze.

  8. A few -40C readings this morning across southern MB with -40C at Pinawa, Gimli and Fisher Branch, and -41C at Sprague. Even colder in northern Ontario and northern Minnesota with -42C in Upsala, -45C in Earlton, and -44C in Babbit MN. Siberia like readings..

  9. Rob, this morning, driving eastbound from Chalfont to Shaftesbury along Roblin around 8:00am, my truck temperature went from -34 to -38, then back to -34 after passing the forest/golf course..... why exactly is that? Less urban heat?

  10. Crediable scientists have now abandoned global warming by CO2 theory and now recognize that the sun is in a period of increasing inactivity and there poses a risk of a "maunder solar minimum" or a shorter dalton minimum, so be prepared for colder winters. There was a dalton minimum in the 1800s and the winters were brutal in the 1880s.

  11. All the trees and flat terrain may prevent the overnight cool air from being vented out as easily as in others areas. This is why you don't winter-camp in a low sheltered spot (it's better during the day due to less wind, but not a good place to sleep).

    There was a patch of forest at the airport where I used to be a weather observer, and it was amazing how on a cold/calm winter morning you could easily feel the different temperatures when walking around from the open to the sheltered spots. You can see how having standard/consistent weather station placement is so important for good climate data.

    The lack of heat sources like roads and houses also doesn't help of course.

  12. Re: Temperature drop along roads through Assiniboine Forest.

    I notice this effect often.. temperatures on Grant or Roblin through the forest will be several degrees colder than surrounding areas on clear cold nights from evening to early morning. Sometimes, you'll see fog forming along the road here but it's clear elsewhere. As SpotWx mentioned, it's because the roads through the forest are effectively low sheltered areas that allow cold air to settle. Thus, these roads become cold air drainage zones until you clear the forest and there's better dispersion.

  13. Still on track for about 2 cm overnight and then another 5-10 cm Friday here in Winnipeg. Could see a bit more to our north and east. Gusty south winds overnight shift to gusty north winds Friday evening, so there will be some blowing and drifting snow to contend with.

    Then we get cold again for the weekend into next week. Sunday is looking especially brutal.. with even colder air coming in but this time with brisk 30 km/h winds into Monday.. so wind chills will be awful. The winds have been light during this latest cold snap so this upcoming cold surge will feel even worse.

    But there is some good news.. all models are hinting at some warmer air coming in for the end of next week into next weekend that looks a little longer than just a one day warmup. Hopefully that works out as I'm getting a little stir crazy form this relentless cold weather!

  14. Here in British Columbia, 2013 was the warmest December ever in some places, notibly around Smithers and Bella Coola (west-central part).