Wind and Blowing Snow Usher in Arctic Blast

A deep trough of cold air anchored over Hudson Bay will lock Southern Manitoba into a strong northerly flow that will keep us stuck in abnormally cold weather well into March. This latest blast of cold weather will ensure that the winter of 2013/2014 ends up as the coldest in 35 years[1] and as one of the 15 coldest winters on record[2].

-17°C / -34°C
Chance of morning flurries, then very windy w/blowing snow.

-21°C / -26°C
Sunny. Increasing cloud & flurries overnight.

-21°C / -34°C
Flurries ending midday then clearing.

The Red River Valley is in for a rude return to the deep freeze today as a cold front rips through the Red River Valley bringing very strong winds with it. There’s a very slight chance of some light flurries in this morning’s cloud but it’s likely any precipitation that might develop will remain north or east of the valley. The bigger story is the cold front that will push through around lunch time today.

A deep unstable layer will develop this afternoon in the wake of the cold front.
A deep unstable layer will develop this afternoon in the wake of the cold front.

The passage of the cold front will clear out the skies but bring with it very strong winds, increasing out of the north/northwest to 50km/h. A deep layer of instability, shown on the right in the forecast sounding, will work in two ways:

  1. It will promote gusty winds which will mean in addition to the sustained winds at 40-50km/h, it’s quite likely we’ll see gusts in the 60-70km/h range.
  2. The instability will help “loft” ice crystals and snow which is helpful in generating blowing snow.

Other than making it feel miserably cold, the wind will work together with the relatively dry snowpack in the area to produce blowing snow. I’m unsure of exactly what the snowpack surface’s nature is right now, but I think it’s safe to say that with winds as strong as we’ll see, some blowing snow is inevitable. I don’t foresee a full-scale blizzard or anything of the sort, but localized white-out conditions are certainly possible. If you’re travelling on area highways this afternoon, be aware of the potential for poor driving conditions.

The winds will ease off through the night as an Arctic ridge of high pressure pushes into the region. Temperatures will plummet close to -35°C through the Red River Valley by tomorrow morning as we become entrenched in bitterly cold air once again.

Tomorrow will bring mainly sunny skies, relatively light winds and a high near -21°C. A weak inverted trough will begin pushing into Southern Manitoba late late in the day and will spread cloud and light flurries into Winnipeg and the Red River Valley overnight. Temperatures will drop only to around -25 or -26°C overnight thanks to the cloud cover.

Friday morning will see the light flurry activity tapering off with clearing skies towards midday as the trough pushes off to the east. With the sunshine will come wind once again, with north/northwesterly winds at 30-40km/h picking up through the afternoon. We’ll climb once again to around -21°C as a high


The NAEFS 8-14 day temperature outlook.
The NAEFS 8-14 day temperature outlook.

Buckle up for the long haul; the cold air will be settling into the region for an extended stay. All long-range outlooks – including the NAEFS above – are forecasting below-normal temperatures into the second week of March. Of note is how far below-normal we’ll be this week. The seasonal high for this time of year is around -6°C, and with forecast highs of -21°C, we’ll be some 15°C below normal.

So keep the long johns out, plug in the car and keep warm!

  1. As mentioned by Rob’s Obs on February 24, 2013.  ↩
  2. Records began in 1872 at St. John’s College  ↩


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 Twitter.