Alberta Clipper Plunges Manitoba Into The Deep Freeze

An Alberta Clipper moving through the province on Friday into Saturday will pack a potent punch – likely the worst storm so far this winter for most places, including Winnipeg – bringing a decent shot of snow alongside strong winds producing significant blowing snow. To cap things off, a bitterly cold air mass will move into the region bringing extremely cold temperatures & wind chill.

-14°C / -21°C
Early morning flurries, then snow beginning late in the day
⇓ -26°C / -32°C
Snow tapering off then clearing; windy & cold
-27°C / -33°C
Mainly sunny

Friday will start off mainly cloudy as a brief shot of light snow exits the province. Amounts from this band will be just a couple cm or less and this leading impulse will be nothing compared to what will be moving in later in the day.

Before that, though, skies will become more mixed with temperatures gradually climbing to around –14°C. Winds will remain relatively light until the Alberta Clipper moves into the region tonight.

Snow will push into Southwestern & Parkland Manitoba this afternoon and quickly spread eastwards across the remainder of the province by the evening. Snowfall will be quite intense, with rates reaching as much as 2cm/hr in the heaviest band. The heaviest snow will fall through Friday night and then taper off from west to east through the day on Saturday.

Expected snowfall totals across Southern Manitoba. The heaviest snow is expected to fall within 50km or so on either side of the U.S. border.
Expected snowfall totals across Southern Manitoba. The heaviest snow is expected to fall within 50km or so on either side of the U.S. border.

By the time the snow tapers off on Saturday, up to 25cm of snow may have fallen through the heaviest band of snow which is centered along the international border and cuts across the Southern Red River Valley. Winnipeg will likely receive on the higher end of 10–15cm of snow while amounts then taper off through the northern Parkland region and central Interlake.

Measuring that snow may be quite difficult, though, as strong northwesterly winds to 40km/h move into the Red River Valley. With all the fresh snow, widespread blowing snow is very likely on area highways with the potential for significant restrictions to visibility. In areas of the southern Red River Valley, we may even see the development of a full-on blizzard with the higher amount of fresh snowfall and slightly stronger winds due to the funnelling of the valley. Driving conditions will likely be quite poor, so be sure to give yourself plenty of additional time if you need to travel and remember to always carry a winter survival kit in your vehicle.

There’s only one story once the snow tapers off on Saturday and skies begin to clear: bitter cold. It’s going to get very, very cold across the entire province with the coldest air mass of the season diving southwards behind the clipper. Saturday will see temperatures slipping through the day to around –26°C which will then plummet down to –32 or –33°C overnight. With winds of 10–20km/h persisting overnight, wind chill values of –40 to –45 will be widespread through Southern Manitoba.[1]

Sunday will bring barely any recovery with temperatures struggling to get to a paltry –27°C. Expect the low on Sunday night to dip back down to –32 or –33°C with wind chills agin in the –40 to –45 range.

No Warmth In The Long-Range

Looking ahead to next week, conditions look dry with little to offer as reprieve from the cold. Daytime highs will moderate towards the –20°C mark, but overnight lows in the low minus-twenties will be sticking around for a while.

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

Looking even further ahead, there are little in the way of strong signals. There’s about a 50/50 chance of below-seasonal temperatures continuing, but compared to this week, it’s at least a trend towards more seasonal temperatures. It’s not much, but when we’re getting as cold as we will this weekend, I’ll take what I can get.

  1. This will likely result in an extreme cold warning being issued by Environment Canada, as their criteria is a temperature or wind chill colder than –40.  ↩

Remaining Cold

This week will remain cold as arctic air continues to spill down from the north.

A northwesterly flow will continue to bring cold weather to southern Manitoba on Monday
A northwesterly flow will continue to bring cold weather to southern Manitoba on Monday


-8°C / -14°C
Mix of sun and cloud with chance of flurries

Today will be cold and breezy. Temperatures in the morning will be in the minus teens, rising into the minus single digits by afternoon. Skies will be a mix of sun and cloud with chance of light flurries. The wind will be from the north-west at 20-30km/h.


-7°C / -10°C
Mix of sun and cloud with chance of flurries

Tuesday will be slightly warmer than Monday, but not by much. High temperatures will once again be in the minus single digits, once again under a mix of sun and cloud. There will also be a chance of light flurries throughout the day. Winds will be breezy and from the south.


-9°C / -18°C
Mainly cloudy with flurries

Wednesday looks to be a fairly miserable day. High temperatures will be near the -10C mark, with a gusty north-west wind and flurries. This means blowing snow is likely in open areas, similar to the conditions experienced on Sunday. Winds speeds of 40km/h gusting to 60km/h are expected.

Long Range

The long range forecast calls for continued cold weather. Weather models suggest that we’ll see below-normal weather persist for at least another week. Unfortunately, it looks like winter is here to stay, like it or not.

Windy, Unsettled Weather Marks Pattern Shift

Windier, snowier weather is on the way for Winnipeg and the Red River Valley, marking the start of a large-scale pattern shift which will bring the latest – and hopefully last – deep freeze to an end and allow more seasonal weather and temperatures to take hold.

-9°C / ⇑ -6°C
Windy & cloudy. Blowing snow possible. Snow in the afternoon.

-1°C ⇓ / -18°C
Snow ending midday; breezy with temperatures falling in the afternoon.

-12°C / -20 to -25°C
Mainly sunny.

A Windy, Snowy Shift

Warmer air trying to build its way into the Red River Valley will result in increasing southerly winds today. By early this afternoon, winds will be quite strong out of the south at 40-50km/h with gusts as high as 70km/h. These strong winds – coupled with a fairly deep boundary layer – will likely produce fairly widespread blowing snow in the Red River Valley. It’s severity may be limited by relatively mild temperatures, however it’s best that anyone travelling on area highways be prepared for poor driving conditions.

Warmer air at 850mb (denoted by the yellow/red colours) will be pushing northeastwards over the next 24 hours.
Warmer air at 850mb (denoted by the yellow/red colours) will be pushing northeastwards over the next 24 hours.

By late in the afternoon, the upper-level portion of the warm front will be approaching the Manitoba border. A strengthening jet[1] overriding the 850mb baroclinic zone will provide a fair amount of isentropic lift. As the jet intensifies, as will the area of light snow pushing into Parkland Manitoba this morning. It will progress eastwards through the day and push through the Interlake and Red River Valley mid-to-late this afternoon.

It seems likely that Winnipeg will see around 2cm of snow that falls as a fairly intense, but short, burst. Areas south of the city will be more hit and miss as to whether or not snow falls. The safe thing to say is that you’re more and more likely to see snow the further north you are in the valley.

By evening our temperature will climb up to our daytime high of about -9°C. Overnight will bring the continued chance for flurries/light snow while winds diminish somewhat and temperatures continue to rise to around -7 or -6°C here in Winnipeg.

Expected storm-total snowfall by Friday morning. Snow will fall in 3 main batches.
Expected storm-total snowfall by Friday morning. Snow will fall in 3 main batches.

Thursday looks to bring more snow to Winnipeg & the Red River Valley as a clipper system races along the Canada-US border. Snow will move in fairly early in the day, spreading eastwards along the Trans-Canada corridor into Winnipeg, and end early in the afternoon. In total, around 5cm is likely to fall through the morning hours – with a little less to the south of Winnipeg – while accompanied by breezy winds out of the south at around 30km/h. Winds will become gusty out of the NW at 30-50km/h in the afternoon as the system tracks off to our east.

Temperatures will climb to a positively balmy -2 or -1°C by midday before the northwesterlies begin drawing in cooler air.

Flurries & Cooler

Thursday night will bring a good chance of seeing some flurry activity as another ridge of high pressure builds in from the NW and some favourable snow-making air slides southeastwards through the region. Any accumulations would amount to only a couple cm at most, and through the night the clouds will break up and we’ll be left with partly cloudy skies by Friday morning.

Friday itself will bring cooler temperatures with a high of only around -12°C and light winds. Some cloud cover Friday night will help temperatures from dipping too much, with overnight lows dipping just below -20°C.

Spring Ahead?

Hope finally lies in the long-range models. Almost all are showing a high probability of a return to seasonal temperatures[2] within the next 2 weeks. No significant cold snaps are in the foreseeable future, and with the sun getting stronger and stronger and the days getting longer and longer, it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see any more brutal cold snaps for the miserable winter of 2013-2014.

Don’t forget that this coming Sunday, March 9th at 2:00AM we get to do that wonderful[3] tradition of changing our clocks! We spring forward an hour, so it’ll be time to cash in that extra hour you banked way back in the fall!

  1. A “jet” is a narrow ribbon of strong winds aloft.  ↩
  2. Which will be for daytime highs near -3°C and overnight lows near -13°C.  ↩
  3. Awful.  ↩

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  ↩