Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 10 weather stories of 2009

Environment Canada's Dave Phillips released his Top 10 weather stories of 2009 list today.. an annual look at the top weather events across Canada. The number one story was the "summer of our discontent", a summer which was too cool and wet for most, too hot and dry in BC. Other top weather stories were the record ice-jam flooding on the Red, the Toronto area tornado outbreak, and the prolonged 9 month spell of below normal temperatures in the Prairies. What do you think was the top weather story for Winnipeg in 2009? Cast your vote on my blog poll! Say goodbye to 2009.. here's looking to a warm and pleasant 2010!


  1. Extremely difficult to choose. Many many records this year to choose from.
    Will you have your own top 10 weather events Rob?

  2. Added up all my precipitation accumulations for this year and got this:
    -640 mm of rain
    -130 cm of snow

  3. Rob!

    Do you think Winnipeg will hit it's first -30 C overnight low of the year with this upcoming cold blast???

  4. YWG will almost certainly drop to or below -30 C at some point either Friday or Saturday morning. Guidance finally catching on to idea of cold temperatures I see. Surface high builds down into central Alberta clearing off upslope clouds and flurries and possibly causing temps to crater.. I think a morning low of -23 C for Edmonton is too optimistic. It looks to me with high building right over them, clearing will occur sooner, but we'll see.

    High then drifts east over Saskatchewan Thursday nite/Friday morning. I'm sure we will see some mid -30s out there. WHile the coldest temps will be off to our west, with a NW flow YWG could easily tank below -30 C Friday morning. High slowly drifts east into NW Ontario by Sat morn... temperatures will nose dive early part of Friday nite while high is directly over us and then likely stabilize (again possibly at or below -30C).

    A couple of wildcards:

    1)all those bare patches in open country may allow for modification of airmass

    2)GFS hints at a blocking pattern with almost rex block setting up over Atlantic coast of N America...will have to watch if high stalls or retrogrades giving us potential for mid -30's on Sat morn.

    It is also interesting to note that the core of the arctic air is progged once again to stay north of I-94 corridor (Fargo). Tough to say how far south -30 C temps will get... warmer airmass vs. deeper snowcover.

  5. Under what I would term ideal conditions, I think YWG could tank to -39C on Saturday morning. I am not necessarily forecasting this, but I think that is the lowest possible value, which would assume the following:

    1. Centre of high pressure is over southern Manitoba early Saturday morning.
    2. Wind speed remains low (<=10km/h).
    3. Wind direction remains from N or NW.
    4. Cloud Cover remains minimal.

    I think -39 probably won't be reached, but -35 or -36 is likely for Sat. morning given the current data. On Friday I think Brandon will get down to around -35, with Winnipeg staying around -32/-33.

  6. GEM, NAM, and GFS all agree on positioning high pressure ridge just off to our southeast by Sat morn, giving us a lite SW flow. As soon as winds switch around, YWG will stop dropping... exactly when that happens will dictate the overnite low, but I would expect coldest temps on south side of the city likely including Rob's location.

    850 hPa temps are forecast to be between -16 and -18 C.. meaning we would need a 23 degree temperature inversion to get -39 C at the surface. Given all the reports of sparse snow cover and bare ground I do not see that happening around the Winnipeg area. The place to watch for an extreme inversion to set up will be over the deep, extensive snowpack between Grand Forks and Fargo and in the sandy, hilly terrain of SE Manitoba. In fact I think the axis of coldest temperatures Sat morn will be from Grand Forks NE to Sprague.

  7. Hi Rob,

    Where do we stand as far the el nino winter that had been talked about? December was near normal and January is starting out pretty cold. Has the el nino faded away or might we still see some warmer weather for the rest of the winter?

  8. According to my temperature calculation software, if the wind direction is from the south or south-east for most of the overnight period, Winnipeg gets down to -34/-35. If the wind stays from the north or north-west, the temperature falls to -37.

    As for Steinbach, I think wind direction will be less of a factor. A south wind would push some slightly warmer air from the city towards the airport, but a south-west or south-east wind is still drawing mainly from the countryside. So if the wind is from the south, Steinbach is -35/-36. If the wind is from the north or north-west, then Steinbach is -37, maybe -38.

    Just for fun, lets look at Grand Forks. Under ideal conditions, I think GFK could go down to -40. However, more likely would be a low around -37.

  9. Joe...

    Not to take Rob's he is likely way more knowledgeable than I am... One of our staff at NWS Grand Forks has studied long term climate issues extensively and the relationship of El-Nino and its interaction with other factors present. I have also studied quite a bit about this over the past year.

    Parameters say we are at a high end moderate or low end strong El-Nino at the present time...but it is a western based one...the warmest waters in the western basin of the Pacific versus the east. Also the Arctic Oscillation was at a near record low (-3.0) in December. A negative AO would argue for suppressed heights over Srn canada and colder air a bit farther south than usual. Also there has been a persistant Greenland Block with higher heights off of Baffin Island. This has all helped in the last 30 days to keep lower heights a bit farther south than usual and also colder air a bit farther south than would otherwise expect in an El-Nino winter. Our local climate guru says that studies have shown that in El-Nino years with a cold December that Jan and Feb also run a bit colder than usual too.

    Here is our local climate guru's take:

    "The bottom line 70% of the El Nino winters are warmer than normal; contrary to popular
    belief the snowfall is below normal but precipitation is typically 'normal'. This is due to the
    higher temperatures bringing increased rain/freezing rain events. The other 30% of
    El Nino winters are colder and wetter, similar to La Nina due to other larger scale

    If you look at the graphic the rest of the winter *is expected* to average out near
    normal, perhaps only a degree above. Note the colder than normal to the north and west.
    The point is, this is a composite and not a literal forecast. It's an odds on outlook.

    What has happened? This winter is similar to the El Nino winters of 1957/58, 1963/64
    and 1976/77 which had a tremendous amount of variability. The precipitation outlook
    for the rest of the winter is similar to that of the temperature, a great deal of variability
    with the *best bet* for normal to below normal snowfall the rest of the winter season.

    (I'm also looking at a few other El Nino winters that were preceded by a cold
    fall and cool December - negative AO - and the rest of those winters were cold
    but dry. Warm spring though; More on that later.) "

    -- Rob please feel free to add more info as you feel necessary....


  10. I saw the discussion for lows at GF... yes I can see those sites that "pit" out seeing -30s F for lows Sat AM. Favored cold spots are GFK airport ASOS and Hallock AWOS. Both sites are known to a bit of cold air drainage. In town of Grand Forks, more like -20s such a big difference is usual due to local factors such as where stations are located.


    Here's to another year of blogging!!!

  12. Thanks for the insight Dan.. good info. Can't add too much more to your informative post.. except that the Arctic Oscillation is forecast to trend towards neutral by mid January.. so that may help modify our colder temps at the start of January. But it's good you point out that an El-Nino does not guarantee a milder than normal winter for us. 70% odds are pretty good, but it's not 100%. Nothing much is in meteorology..

    BTW, you can get more insight on this topic from NWS GFK's winter outlook at..

  13. Thanks Daniel, and everyone else who posts or visits my site. I'm happy to provide a forum to talk about weather around these parts, and benefit from everyone's input. "Rob's Obs" had over 58,000 visits in 2009 and over 90,000 page views from 35 countries around the world. Thanks for visiting, and here's looking ahead to more interesting weather in 2010!

  14. Thanks Rob and everyone hear for good informative information. Thanks Rob for his website and data collection...I use it quite a bit down here when weather is coming from up north.

    This comes from a canadian by heart...but was born in the U.S.

    Another point I would like to share after living in GF area for over 10 years I do feel there is a special bond between all Red River people regardless of nation we live in. We are hard working people who help another. Hears to another good year and hopes for a slow melt down south.

  15. The repeated references to seriously cold weather with normal pcpn in all but the northern RRV are not reassuring.

    I would be interested in knowing whether those Warm springs were early or late.

  16. Hmmmm Bloggg edit skills need work... That might be a New Years resolution.

    Jim said ..

    Dan, I would.....

    All the best in the New Year everyone .

  17. Thanks guys for continuously updating us and keeping us informed about the weather to come throughout the year. And keep up the good work on the site Rob.

    Happy New year!

  18. Thanks to everyone for good discussions in 2009. A special thanks to Rob for your commitment to this blog and your website.

    On another note, it looks like YWG won't bottom out on Saturday morning. Wind should shift to south before the temperature can bottom out. Still looks like -35 is possible, but certainly nothing near -40. GFK might get a bit colder, but still nothing extreme.