March 14, 2016 - Near Killarney, MB

Record-Breaking Weekend in Southern Manitoba

Numerous record were broken across the province from March 11-14, 2016 as abnormal warmth spread across the Southern Prairies. In Winnipeg, the event ended up breaking several record types, including record high temperatures, record high dewpoints, and record daily rainfall amounts.

What caused this anomalous event and what was the overall outcome? Read on to find out!

Upper Ridge Brings Anomalous Warmth to the Prairies

GDPS 500mb height anomalies valid the evening of Saturday March 12, 2016
GDPS 500mb height anomalies valid the evening of Saturday March 12, 2016

The entire event was precipitated by an anomalous 500mb ridge over much of North America. This feature introduced a broad southwesterly flow through the western Prairies and northern Plains of the US, allowing mild Pacific air to flood eastwards across the region.

GDPS 850mb temperature anomalies valid the evening of Saturday March 12, 2016
GDPS 850mb temperature anomalies valid the evening of Saturday March 12, 2016

Temperatures ended up well above seasonal values across the entire Prairies. Shown above in the above image, 850mb[1] temperatures were nearly 20°C above normal over southern Manitoba. This translated to very mild temperatures at ground level, with many communities seeing multiple days of record high temperatures.

Southerly Feed Enhances Dew Point Values

Additionally, a weak cut-off low over the central Plains resulted in a enhanced southerly component to low-level winds, which tapped into [relatively] humid air to the south and fed it northwards into the province, evident in the above image that shows that there was a higher-than-normal amount of water in the atmosphere over southern Manitoba.

GDPS precipitable water anomalies valid the evening of Saturday March 12, 2016
GDPS precipitable water anomalies valid the evening of Saturday March 12, 2016

This resulted in seasonally high dew points for the region. Winnipeg ended up breaking two maximum dew point records on Saturday March 13 and Monday March 14. The anomalous moisture also brought a heavy London-like fog to the region on Sunday night which resulted in a fog advisory for the Red River Valley and southeastern Manitoba as near-zero visibilities blanked the area for over 8 hours.

Wet Transition Out of Pattern Breaks Daily Rainfall Records

A deep trough began digging into the Western United States on Monday March 14, developing a deep surface trough extending from Northern Alberta all the way to Texas. Ahead of this trough, a southerly feed tapped into moisture-laden air over the southern United States and began pumping it northwards towards Manitoba. As the system organized over the Dakotas on Monday night, it was able to spawn an area of thunderstorms over North Dakota that blossomed into an area of moderate rain as it pushed eastwards through the night.

This area of rain pushed through southern Manitoba on Tuesday morning, dumping anywhere from 10-20mm of rain over the region. This resulted in a new daily rainfall record for Winnipeg, breaking the prior record of nearly 70 years.

Record Values

In Winnipeg, 4 records were broken through the period of March 11-15, 2016:

  1. Record high temperature in Winnipeg on Saturday, March 12 (New 12.2°C, old 9.7°C set in 2012)
  2. Record high dewpoint in Winnipeg on Sunday, March 13 (new 7.6°C, old 6.7°C set in 2010)
  3. Record high dewpoint in Winnipeg on Monday, March 14 (new 7.7°C, old 6.2°C set in 2012)
  4. Daily rainfall record in Winnipeg on Tuesday, March 15 (New 15.6 mm, old 11.4 mm set in 1946)

However, numerous record high temperatures were broken throughout Manitoba over the 4-day span. Of note was Melita’s high of 20.5°C on Monday, March 14, which marked the earliest 20°C temperature in Manitoba, beating out the prior record of March 16, set by 13 communities in 2012.

Significant Daily High Temperatures across Southern Manitoba on Friday March 11, 2016
LocationHigh TemperatureRecord HighRecord High YearType
Gretna14.8°C8.7°C2012New Record High
Melita15.8°C14.6°C2012New Record High
Pilot Mound14.1°C11.8°C2012New Record High
Brandon13.4°C13.5°C1981Near-Record High
Winnipeg11.6°C12.8°C2012Near-Record High
Significant Daily High Temperatures across Southern Manitoba on Saturday March 12, 2016
LocationHigh TemperatureRecord HighRecord High YearType
Brandon12.0°C11.7°C1910New Record High
Gimli8.6°C8.5°C1994New Record High
Gretna13.8°C11.3°C2012New Record High
Melita15.3°C9.8°C2007New Record High
Pilot Mound12.1°C9.9°C2012New Record High
Pinawa12.5°C10.2°C1996New Record High
Winnipeg12.2°C9.7°C2012New Record High
Significant Daily High Temperatures across Southern Manitoba on Sunday March 13, 2016
LocationHigh TemperatureRecord HighRecord High YearType
Melita17.7°C15.5°C2012New Record High
Portage la Prairie15.0°C13°C2012New Record High
Pilot Mound15.0°C13°C2012New Record High
Island Lake12.3°C11.2°C2010New Record High
The Pas11.4°C11.1°C1929New Record High
Thompson10.1°C9.6°C2012New Record High
Brandon15.2°C15.2°C2012Tied Record High
Berens River9.3°C10.4°C2012Near-Record High
Fisher Branch7.1°C9°C2012Near-Record High
Gretna11.4°C12.3°C2012Near-Record High
Norway House8.2°C8.8°C2010Near-Record High
Significant Daily High Temperatures across Southern Manitoba on Monday March 14, 2016
LocationHigh TemperatureRecord HighRecord High YearType
Melita 20.5°C[2]14.8°C2015New Record High
Brandon17.9°C15.0°C2015New Record High
Portage la Prairie17.1°C16.6°C2015New Record High
Pilot Mound15.9°C14.4°C2015New Record High
Pinawa15.5°C13.3°C2015New Record High
Sprague15.5°C12.6°C2015New Record High
Fisher Branch12.7°C12.5°C1981New Record High
Winnipeg13.1°C13.2°C2015Near-Record High
Gimli10.6°C11.8°C1981Near-Record High
Gretna14.4°C15.8°C2015Near-Record High
Significant Weather Events in Winnipeg, March 11-15, 2016
DateRecord TypeValueRecord ValueRecord Year
March 11Near-Record High Temperature11.6°C12.8°C2012
March 12New Record High Temperature12.2°C9.7°C2012
March 13New Record High Dewpoint7.6°C6.7°C2010
March 14New Record High Dewpoint7.7°C6.2°C2012
March 14Near-Record High Temperature13.1°C13.2°C2015
March 15New Daily Rainfall Record15.6 mm11.4 mm1946

  1. 850mb is approximately 1.5km above the ground. This level is favourable to use for temperature anomalies at the moment because it is mostly free of the influences of snow cover.  ↩
  2. Melita’s high temperature of 20.5°C on March 14, 2016 marks the earliest date of a ≥ 20°C temperature in Manitoba. The prior record occurred across 13 sites in the province on March 16, 2012.  ↩
Brad

Brad

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.