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On Expertise

To be honest, the upcoming weather hasn’t been on the forefront of my thoughts over the past week. With the rapidly expanding reach of COVID-19, I’ve been spending much more time determining what the best steps for my family are in the near future.

A story has repeated in several countries over the past several weeks: relative complacency about the virus has led to disastrous results. Does this mean that it’s time to panic? No! But it is time to be prepared and adjust our behaviours if we want to avoid the unnecessary deaths seen in other countries whose health care systems have been overwhelmed.

So what to do? I think in this case it’s imperative that we listen to the experts. The reality is, whether in health care, meteorology, emergency management, or any other number of fields that have direct impacts on our lives, there are highly educated and trained people who have prepared for challenges that seem foreign to us. It’s easier than ever to find “armchair advice” with almost anything, but there’s a huge difference between an internet opinion and a career of preparation.

Nobody is correct 100% of the time. In the field of meteorology, where believe it or not we are actually quite good (and getting better), mistakes happen. City planners make mistakes. Doctors make mistakes. The difference with experts is how frequent and how severe those mistakes are. Experts make fewer big mistakes, period. It’s easy to remember the failures, and hard to remember all the times they do their jobs well and we don’t notice.

Taking A Break

That said, we’re going to be taking a break from posting forecasts on A Weather Moment. The reason is two-fold. First, I expect to have significant disruptions to my normal schedule over the coming weeks and finding the time to analyze and write forecasts may be difficult. The second, and I think more important, issue is that now is the time to listen to experts. While I am a meteorologist by trade, this web site is not my outlet of official capacity. For the next while, I highly suggest you check for your forecasts from one of the two official Canadian sources:

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada: The official source for meteorological information in Canada and the only agency with authority to issue watches and warnings. Staffed by expert meteorologists with human intervention for the first 48 hours. Offers point-based forecasts, so available locations are limited.
  • The Weather Network: Canada’s largest private-sector weather forecasting firm. Employs a smaller team of meteorologists that modify a gridded data set to produce forecasts. As a result, forecasts are available for a larger number of locations, but the relatively limited size of their team means many forecasts are heavily dependent on the underlying model and can be susceptible to bias/model insufficiencies.

I personally utilize ECCC for my information. They tend to have fairly accurate forecasts and typically correctly forecast things models tend to struggle with (such as those terrible southerlies when ridges depart). These are official outlets staffed by experts who have years and decades of experience in the field.

I don’t have an exact date when we’ll start the forecasts up again. I’ve been pondering for quite a while what the future of the site is. There’s a ton of work I’d like to do on the site that I simply don’t have the time for when writing forecasts 3x per week. My general feeling has been that I’d like to move towards writing forecasts only for significant events to better contextualize them, increasing the amount of climatological analysis, and greatly improve our tools. During this break, I’ll certainly be pondering exactly what the format looks like when we get back at it. If you have thoughts on that, feel free to let us know in the comments!

Regarding COVID-19

In addition to your weather forecasts, now is the time to listen to our health experts on what to do as the global pandemic arrives in our communities. There are very real and tangible steps we can all take to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and ease the burden on our health care system. A true signal of success will be if in 4+ weeks we are able to look back and feel like we overreacted. For information regarding the virus, here are your official sources:

If there’s one thing that has been made clear in several countries around the world is that by the time it seems bad, it’s actually much worse. We humans are exceptionally social creatures, and reducing our time with each other is difficult. But by taking measure such as ensuring the practice of good communal hygiene, working from home (where possible), eliminating large gatherings, and essentially holing up for a couple weeks, we will be able to significantly reduce the impact of this disease on our community.

So don’t panic, just prepare and begin changing your behaviour. By listening to, and acting on, the advice of the experts responsible for our well-being, we can all do our part in helping our communities manage the coming storm.

All the best to everyone reading this; we hope that you and those close to you are able to stay healthy as we all work together on this challenge. AWM will be back sometime in the coming weeks!

A Short-Lived Snap of Cool Temperatures

Seasonably cool temperatures will start the week in Winnipeg, but the city will see a quick return to milder temperatures.

An Arctic high moving through the region today will bring cooler temperatures to Winnipeg with a high near -10°C. Fortunately, that unpleasant north wind that developed yesterday afternoon will be absent today. Temperatures will dip down to around -16°C tonight as the high exits the area and light winds shift southerly.

On Tuesday, the region will see near-seasonal temperatures as highs climb to around -4°C. Winds will stay light through the day and skies should be mainly sunny. This will be a great day to get outside and enjoy the increasing warmth of the March sun! On Tuesday night, a potent low crossing the northern Prairies will begin to affect the Red River Valley. Winds will pick up out of the south overnight into the 30 to 40 m/h range as skies cloud over. Temperatures will dip to a low near -8°C.

GPDS 10m Wind Forecast valid 12Z Wednesday March 11, 2020"
The Red River Valley will see breezy southerly winds on Wednesday.

Winnipeg will see cloudy skies on Wednesday with those breezy southerly winds easing late in the day. Temperatures will be warm with a high near +2°C as mild Pacific air washes across the southern Prairies. Winds will shift westerly overnight as temperatures dip to a low near -3°C with partly cloudy skies.

Long Range Outlook

Thursday will bring more warm weather, but a cold front moving through on Thursday night will send daytime highs back into the low minus single digits for the end of the week. Seasonably cool temperatures will persist through the weekend with the potential for another round of accumulating snow across southern Manitoba.

Today’s seasonal daytime high in Winnipeg is -3°C while the seasonal overnight low is -13°C.

Strong Winds Today, Light Snow and Cooler on Sunday

Winnipeg will see strong southerly winds today as warmer air pushes back towards the region. After a mild Saturday, some light snow and cooler temperatures return for Sunday.

Winnipeg will see windy conditions today as a low pressure system pushes eastwards across the Prairies. Southerly winds will strengthen to 50 gusting 70 km/h this morning and persist through the day. Fortunately, the snow on Wednesday night was fairly sticky and should’t blow around too much. Some areas of blowing snow will be possible in exposed areas outside the city. Temperatures will climb to a high near -1°C and skies will start out on the cloudier side with more sunshine showing through this afternoon. The winds will gradually ease through the night. Temperatures will stay steady around -2°C tonight with increasing cloud.

RDPS 10m Wind Forecast valid 18Z Friday March 6, 2020
Strong southerly winds will develop over the Red River Valley today.

Saturday will bring mostly cloudy skies and light winds to the region. A trough of low pressure will lie across the region, connecting the departing low over Hudson Bay with a developing low over Montana. Temperatures will climb to a high just on the plus side of 0°C. Skies will become overcast on Saturday night with temperatures dropping to a low near -9°C as northerly winds of 20 to 30 km/h develop. Snow will spread into the province through the night; the heaviest snow will track well north of Winnipeg across WestMan into the northern and central Interlake. Here in the city, some light snow is possible heading into the early morning hours of Sunday.

GFS 24hr. Snowfall Accumulation (10:1 SLR) valid Monday March 9, 2020
Snow will spread across portions of central and southern Manitoba on Saturday night through Sunday. Some areas may see 15 to 20 cm of snow by Sunday evening.

A brisk northerly wind of 30 gusting 50 km/h will develop Sunday with temperatures slowly dropping through the day. Skies will stay overcast with periods of light snow likely through the day. By evening, temperatures should be sitting near -9°C. Winds will taper off overnight as temperatures continue to drop to a low near -16°C.

Long Range Outlook

Next week will start with seasonably cool conditions with Monday’s high in the -10 to -15°C range. Warmer weather will quickly return, though, with near-freezing temperatures moving back into the region on Tuesday and sticking around for the week!

Today’s seasonal daytime high in Winnipeg is -4°C while the seasonal overnight low is -14°C.

Mild Week Brings Wednesday Night Snow, Windy Friday

Mild temperatures continue across the Red River Valley, but Winnipeg will see accumulating snow Wednesday evening.

Winnipeg will see temperatures climb to a high near 0°C again today with southeasterly winds increasing to 30 gusting 50 km/h. The city will see variable cloudiness through the morning, then skies will cloud over through the afternoon hours as a low pressure system arrives. Snow will spread into Winnipeg and the northern Red River Valley later this afternoon. Winds will ease in the evening as the low centre moves through, then pick up out of the northwest overnight. By Thursday morning, Winnipeg will see 5 to 10 cm of new snow with northwest winds up to 30 km/h. Temperatures will dip to a low near -5°C tonight. The accumulating snow will taper off overnight.

ECMWF 24 hr. Snowfall Accumulation (10:1 SLR) Forecast valid 18Z Thursday March 5, 2020
A low pressure system moving across southern Manitoba will give 5 to 10 cm (2 to 3.5″) of snow to the region by Thursday morning.

On Thursday, skies will clear out through the day as the low exits the province. Moderate northwesterly winds in the 30 to 40 km/h range will stick around for the day, then ease in the evening. Winnipeg will see a near-seasonal high of -3°C. Mixed skies will develop overnight as winds shift to the south at 10 to 20 km/h. Lows should dip to about -12°C.

On Friday, another low pushing towards the region will generate strong southerly winds in the Red River Valley. Winds will strengthen into the 40 to 50 km/h range by midday as temperatures climb to a high near 0°C.

RDPS 10m Wind Forecast valid 00Z Saturday March 7, 2020
Strong southerly winds will develop over the Red River Valley on Friday.

It looks like Winnipeg will see a fair amount of cloud, but some sunny breaks are likely. The wind will gradually ease on Friday night as temperatures head to a low near -3°C. Skies will stay mostly cloudy through the night.

Long Range Outlook

Mild weather will continue into the weekend with highs at or above freezing on Saturday. A fairly expansive low pressure system will spread snow across the southern Prairies on Saturday, pushing into Manitoba on Saturday night through Sunday. Winnipeg will likely see some snow from this system, but it’s unclear right now exactly how much the city will receive.

Model forecasts suggest that the heaviest snow will be well north of the city, falling from WestMan eastwards across the Interlake and onwards to the Ontario border. If this were the case, Winnipeg would see somewhere around 2 to 5 cm of snow from this system. That said, small changes in the track of this system, north or south, could significantly change the amount of snow the city receives. We’ll take a closer look at this system’s snowfall potential in Friday’s forecast!

Today’s seasonal daytime high in Winnipeg is -4°C while the seasonal overnight low is -15°C.