March will be ending much like it began.. below normal (although not quite as cold as the the -37C we had on March 1st!) Clear skies and light winds will allow temperatures to drop to the -20C mark yet again early Friday, which would be the 15th time this month with a daily temperature of -20C or lower (normally, March only sees 5 such days in Winnipeg, and usually in the first half of the month). After a chilly start, Friday should see a nice afternoon with highs near -5C, still well below normal for this time of year, but feeling much nicer with sunny skies and light winds. The weekend looks somewhat unsettled as a weak clipper system tracks across southern Manitoba. This system will push a warm front across the area with a chance of some light snow ahead of it Saturday morning, before southerly winds bring in milder air for the afternoon as temperatures climb above the freezing mark to +2C in Winnipeg (which is actually normal for this time of year) We may even see our first rain since early November Saturday night as a band of showers moves through the Red River valley ahead of a cold front. The mild air will be short lived however as the system advances east Sunday, with brisk northerly winds developing behind the system Sunday bringing falling temperatures. This will set the stage for a cold last day of March on Monday with temperatures some 10-15C below normal. March will likely finish with an average temperature around -12.7C in Winnipeg, about 7C below normal (normal March temperature is -5.8C based on 1981-2010 averages) and the coldest March in Winnipeg since 1996 (average temperature of -13.0C). And according to local Winnipeg weather statistician "JJ" (from Winnipeg weather blog), this would make this the coldest December-March period in Winnipeg in 115 years (since the winter of 1898-99) In other words, we've just been through the coldest 4 month stretch in Winnipeg in over a century!
(Check out this creative tribute to our endless winter to the "Sounds of Silence" - Winnipeg Free Press)
But the news isn't all grim. The outlook for the rest of next week calls for a moderating trend with temperatures climbing through the week, with highs rising above the freezing mark by mid to late week. There are hopeful signs that this MAY be the start of a more significant and prolonged pattern change to milder weather as we get into mid April. But be forewarned, Aprils following very cold winters in Winnipeg are usually colder than normal.. thanks to a later than usual snowmelt. Hopefully, a milder start to April will accelerate the return of spring to southern Manitoba.