Stormy Start to the Long Weekend

The August long weekend will be off to a stormy start today as the threat of severe thunderstorms bears down on the Interlake, Red River Valley and Whiteshell this afternoon.

Tornado near Lake Diefenbaker

One of a couple of tornadoes that the incoming system spawned in Saskatchewan yesterday. Photo by @TheMrsCogs.

A very powerful low pressure, responsible for at least two tornadoes in Saskatchewan yesterday, will move into Southern Manitoba today and push a cold front across the province through the day. Very strong dynamics will accompany this system, a stark contrast from the last few systems which have had comparatively strong thermodynamics instead. Despite the lack of strong thermodynamic parameters that are often looked at when diagnosing severe thunderstorm potential, such as CAPE, EHI or LIs, the strong dynamics will present a significant severe weather threat over south-central and southeast Manitoba.

Dynamics are physical, kinematic properties of the atmosphere, such as jets, shear and lift. Thermodynamics are thermal/energetic properties of the atmosphere such as temperatures, humidity and instability.

A band of showers will push into the western Red River Valley early in the afternoon ahead of the upper low. As the afternoon progresses, the upper low will begin to deepen and enhance the destabilization over the Red River Valley. By mid-to-late afternoon, despite the cool temperatures and cloudy skies, there should be rapid development of storms along the cold front. Tornadoes are unlikely, although not impossible, here in Southern Manitoba; that threat should be relegated to the Dakotas where even greater dynamics and substantially better thermodynamics are present. If any tornadoes do form tomorrow, it’s likely that they will be of the short-lived variety and relatively weak. The greatest threat from today’s storm will be extremely heavy rain giving rapid accumulations of 1-2” (25-50mm) given precipitable water values of 40-50mm and large, damaging hail given the cool temperatures aloft.

Thunderstorm Outlook

Day 1 thunderstorm outlook valid 18Z today through 12Z tomorrow morning.

The storms will exit the province overnight, and we’ll have a brief reprieve from precipitation. On Saturday, some showers will wrap down into the RRV on the back side of this system. Amounts will vary across the region, but in general less than 5mm is expected. Temperatures will struggle to climb to even 20°C; daytime highs of only 18 or 19°C are expected. Winds will be breezy from the NW.

This system will clear out Saturday night before nicer weather builds back in. The second half of the long weekend will see increasingly sunny skies and daytime highs near 25°C.


Brad lives in Winnipeg with his wife and two children and is the founder of A Weather Moment. He has loved weather from a very young age and has followed that passion through his life so far. He received a B.Sc. in Earth Sciences with Specialization in Atmospheric Sciences and is currently employed in the field of meteorology. You can find the author as WeatherInThePeg on Mastodon.

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