Tuesday, March 05, 2013

March 4th storm summary - Red River valley buried under heavy snow

A winter storm system tracking from southern Alberta into North Dakota brought an extensive swath of snow over the southern Prairies Sunday into early Tuesday.  In southern Manitoba, snow from this system spread over SW Manitoba Sunday evening, and became heavy at times overnight into Monday across much of southern Manitoba especially over the southern and western RRV. By Tuesday morning, impressive snowfall totals were recorded from this storm including..

March 4 storm snowfall accumulations
image credit: A Weather Moment

Miami ................. 56 cm
Carman ............... 42 cm
St Alphonse ........ 38 cm
Morris ................. 35 cm (est)
Morden/Winkler ... 33 cm
Emerson ............... 33 cm
Pilot Mound .......... 25-30 cm 
Brandon ................ 20-30 cm
Portage ................  24 cm
Winnipeg ............. 12-19 cm

In Winnipeg, general amounts of 15 cm were reported with up to 19 cm in the southwest part of the city (Charleswood)  The snowfall has added to an already impressive snowpack in the Red River valley, with snow depths now in the 50-65 cm range across much of the valley. This represents one of the deepest snow covers in the RRV since the spring of 1997, which preceded the valley's "Flood of the Century" that year.

Radar capture from 10 am Monday March 4th, showing an intense snowband that moved over Winnipeg between 930 am and 11 am. The band produced 5 cm in one hour at my location in Charleswood between 940 and 1040 am.  (see photo right taken at 10 am at my location) Snowfall ended after this band went through then picked up again in the afternoon through Monday night. I picked up 11 cm by Monday evening, with another 8 cm Monday night for a storm total of 19 cm.  


  1. What was the total snowfall amounts in 97? Per and post the April blizzard if possible?

  2. Anonymous.. re:1997 snowfall. Check the Winnipeg climate obs via Climate online.. (click on my name or paste link)


  3. The snow depth this year will probably make for one of the most significant flood events in years memory, taking into account the fact that The Weathernetwork's spring outlook is calling for above normal precipitation through the SouthCentral and Southeastern parts of Manitoba. More flooding and storms anyone?

  4. So this day in 1997 we had the exact amount of snow on the ground (55cm) as we have today. The season total to date in 1997 was 149 cm, while this year's is 142 cm...

  5. The flood forecast says not a problem. In 1997 North Dakota had 300% of normal snow - not this year. Assiniboine watershed was in a drought at freezup last fall , so they expect less run-off this spring.

  6. Keep in mind that those snowfall obs in 1997 were still being taken at the airport, and should not be used as a valid 1 on 1 comparison to snowfall obs being taken now at a residential site in the city. For example, I'm showing a snow depth of 55 cm, but the airport sensor shows 36 cm snow depth. The airport will always have a lower bias with snow since its a more exposed location. So if they were showing a depth of 55 cm in 1997, it was probably more like 80 cm at a residential site like mine.

  7. Just checking my snowfall records since I moved here in 1998. The only other time I recorded a snow depth of 50 cm or more was in early March 2007, when I had a 51 cm snow depth on March 2 & 3rd. (Airport had 31-33 cm at the time) Snow pack was gone by the 28th when we got some mild rainy weather at the end of the month. So this is definitely the deepest snow cover we've seen in Winnipeg since 1997.

  8. Looks like it will be a close call with a Colorado Low type system on Saturday. NAM, GFS and GEM have it just scraping us right now with just a couple cm. Will be another system to watch.

  9. How does the rest of the month look? Are there any chances we could get hit with another storm like the last one?

  10. This product has another 20-50mm over much of MB somewhere during March 14-22.


  11. Hi,

    I see that accurate weather is calling for 20 cms of snow for next Thursday and 5 more for the Monday after. I know it is an automated forecast but they did predict the storm we just had. Is this ever going to end?


  12. The last 2 ensemble runs also hint at a snowstorm for mid next week. The Weather Network also shows some snow. So maybe.

  13. Hi Rob

    I was chatting with the RFC in Chanhassen... I gave them the snow totals in Manitoba. Is there any where were the liquid total equiv are taken as well as the liquid amount is what they use to input into the river models. I didnt know....


  14. Hi Dan..

    There are a number of COCORAHS sites in southern MB, many of which give SWE values. Data quality is suspect at times, so treat them with a grain of salt.. but many of the obs can be helpful, especially with snowfall amounts. See..
    http://www.cocorahs.org/ViewData/ListDailyPrecipReports.aspx and click on CANADA reports.

    Manitoba Water Stewardship is in charge of flood forecasting for the province.. and they do snow surveys each spring before flood season. I'm sure they would have more detailed info on snow pack conditions in southern MB including SWE values. Might be worth RFC contacting them for more info (although I suspect they already do). If I find out any more info, I'll let you know.

  15. Rob,

    There seems to be hints of another potential snowstorm middle to late next week.

    What are your thoughts on that?

  16. Still too early to say.. After this last storm, I have little confidence in models beyond 3 or 4 days right now. Certainly there are hints that we may see more precip next week, but I'll reserve comments to systems in the more immediate future.

    This weekend storm system still appears that it will be well to our southeast, but impacting the far southern RRV in ND into MN.

  17. Regarding SWE in southern MB, the published flood forecast here


    has a link to a % of normal overwinter precip map here:


    Though looking at the numbers, they are highly variable (especially in ag areas) which raises questions about the accuracy.

  18. Anonymous.. Thanks for the links. I see those are valid for up Feb 18. This last storm will push those numbers up.

    I'm going to take a snow core sample myself from my yard tomorrow.. I'll post what it melts down to.

  19. Woodlands radar down.. unknown when it will be back up. Area of snow moving through the Interlake tonight mainly north of the city.

  20. Was out late last night. Started raining around 1230am. Not sure how long it went but was still raining around 130am. Just a drizzle that kept the wipers iced up

  21. Took a snow core sample from my backyard this morning using an official EC snow core tube. 50 cm snowpack melted down to 168 mm liquid (6.6")

  22. Wow, that snow in western MB is much more intense than expected. Reports of near-zero vis.

    WOCN11 CWWG 091446
    Special weather statement issued by Environment Canada at 8:46 AM CST
    Saturday 9 March 2013.
    Special weather statement for:
    =new= Brandon - Carberry - Treherne
    =new= Dauphin - Roblin - Winnipegosis
    =new= Minnedosa - Neepawa - Russell - Riding Mountain National Park
    =new= Killarney - Pilot Mound - Manitou
    =new= Melita - Boissevain - Turtle Mountain Provincial Park
    =new= Virden - Souris
    =new= Ste. Rose - McCreary - Alonsa - Gladstone.

    Near-zero visibility in snow possible this morning.

    A band of heavy snow associated with a cold front is making it's way
    through Western Manitoba this morning. The band is currently (as of
    8:45 AM) affecting Dauphin where near-zero visibility in snow is
    being reported, and is poised to move into Brandon shortly.
    Snowfall accumulations of 2 to 5 cm are likely as the front moves
    through and furthermore, the majority of the snow will likely fall
    within an hour or so. Motorists in particular are advised that poor
    driving conditions with near-zero visibility in snow can be
    anticipated as the front moves through the area, with both the
    trans-Canada and the Yellowhead Highways affected amongst others.
    The front and associated snow is expected to slowly weaken as it
    moves eastward into the Red River Valley.

    The public is advised to monitor future forecasts and warnings as
    warnings may be required or extended.

    Please monitor the latest forecasts and warnings from Environment
    Canada at www.weatheroffice.gc.ca

  23. Rob I see your snowpack melted down to a 3:1 ratio snow:water. Isn't that unusually high (wet)?

  24. Don't forget that's a whole season's worth of snow compressed down to 50 cm. I've recorded about 140 cm of snow since Nov, so that would make it closer to 9:1 ratio. Still seems high, perhaps that amount also took in blowing and drifting snow that added to the snowpack but I didn't measure? I'd like to see other samples to make a better assessment...

  25. Rob,

    Any snowfall potential here in Winnipeg in the next 10 days or so?

  26. Looks like a chance some light snow Monday afternoon into Monday evening. nothing significant maybe a cm or two. Then the models are showing something more significant around March 15 with perhaps 5-10 cm or more. Still a ways away and lots of uncertainty, but that looks like our next chance of more significant snow.

  27. Got 2 other snow core reports from south Winnipeg.. 86 mm and 78 mm, about half what I got. Not sure why my sample was so high.. will have to do a re-measure.

  28. Another snow core report: from Linden Woods today, 56 cm snow depth, 122 mm WE. Similar to 2007.

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  30. I went outside and took a measurement last night at my place in Silver Heights, 49.88194 Lat, -97.25203 Lon. I got a 56cm snow depth, the water Equivalent is 101.6 mm. 2007 and or 2010 levels?

  31. Also rob I am getting really sick of these winter temperatures even the minus single digits, when are we going to get out of this pattern by your knowledge of previous years? I would like to get out outside on my bike and wear a thin jacket and see the snow melt. Any sign of plus temperatures in the horizon?

  32. Mike: snow levels and moisture content are about on par with 2007 levels right now. We'll see if they get better or worse in the weeks ahed. As for any warmup in sight.. not really anything I can see right now. We stay in a near to below normal pattern much of the week which means sub freezing temps. Like you, I'd really like to see hints of a major pattern change to bring warmer temperatures over us, but right now, all I'm seeing is more of the same pattern we've been stuck in for weeks now. That means generally below normal weather with brief spells of near to slightly above normal temps. Nothing like a year ago when we started that amazing warm spell this week, losing a 25 cm snowpack in 3 days, and hitting 20c temps by the end the week.

  33. 17.5C in Port Weller, Ontario today. Highest temperature recorded in Canada this year.

  34. GFS showing a possible 10 cm+ system for next week Monday going into Tuesday on the SpotWX charts. A bit too far out in fantasy land for it not to be taken with some grains of salt currently, but worth keeping an eye on since if it does verify, it would be bad news for commuters early next week.

  35. Looks like we'll be seeing some snow here on Friday with a clipper going through.. maybe 5 cm or so. All the models are showing something.. including the GGEM which drives EC's forecast. So it's odd that the forecast for Friday says "Mix of sun and cloud" for Winnipeg with no hint of precipitation, when clearly, there's a pretty good chance of seeing some snow here. Ahhh, the wonders of automated forecasts..

  36. My goodness, GEM calls for mid minus thirties next weekend. Wonder why that model has been having such a cold bias this winter. Yes it may cool down, but I think that's a little exageration in the model.
    However, looking at some long range models and predictions, doesn't look like winter wants to end any time soon. With all this snow still on the ground, it may be safe to say we'll have to wait until April for a clear turn around to spring... Unless if the models are completely wrong. Not that this is way unnormal, but it's sure unwanted by many!

  37. Definitely looks cold for this weekend. You're right about the exaggerated cold from the GGEM, but minus 20s sure looks possible. I have to stop thinking about what it was like this time a year ago!

  38. Hi Rob.
    Any idea why Env Can's radars have been intermittent and are now completely off in Manitoba? Harper cut funding maybe??
    They don't post outage info like NOAA in the US. No accountability to us taxpayers :(