Cloudy & Mild Weather Continues

There’s no end to the mild weather in sight thanks to a stagnant weather pattern that will persist through the remainder of the week. For those that love the sun, it will be a hard week as cloudy conditions persist with a continued chance of light flurry or freezing drizzle activity.

This weekend was a notable one when it came to warmth in Winnipeg as temperatures remained above 0°C for a record-breaking 66 hours, breaking the old record of 44 hours set on January 8/9, 2002. Temperatures first climbed above 0°C at 3PM on Friday January 20th and remained there all the way through 11PM on January 22.

Temperatures hovered between 0 and +2°C in Winnipeg for 66 hours between January 20th and 22nd, 2017.

This record mild spell broke no record high temperatures, but did result in a couple of rainfalls that brought January 2017 to the 2nd rainiest on record with 3.6 mm so far. The rainiest January on record is 1944 when 3.7 mm fell.

So, all that said, the forecast for the next few days is simple.

Cloudy. Today and tomorrow will both bring a continued chance for some light flurry or freezing drizzle activity across the Red River Valley with temperatures topping out near -1°C and light winds. Lows will be near -5°C both tonight and tomorrow night.

Flurries are expected across southern Manitoba on Wednesday.

The area of low pressure that’s entrenched over the region will begin moving out on Tuesday night, allowing some more organized northwesterly winds to develop across the Red River Valley. Winds will strengthen to 20-30 km/h by Wednesday morning and continue throughout the remainder of the day. Temperatures will be cooler with that northwest flow; highs will top out around -3°C and flurries will be widespread across southern Manitoba. Temperatures will dip to a low near -8°C under more cloudy skies on Wednesday night.

Long Range

Relatively mild temperatures will continue through the second half of the week with daytime highs hovering near -5°C. Sun may begin poking out on Thursday, but at this point it looks like Friday will be the first day of the week the sun makes a full comeback. No significant precipitation is expected in the second half of the week.

Sun Breaks Through For A Mild Weekend

Winnipeg will see a reprieve from the damp, cloudy weather this weekend as the clouds clear out later today and clear to mixed skies move in. Alongside the sun, daytime highs over 5°C above normal will remain in place, continuing the likely record-setting above normal temperature trend seen for the entirety of November so far.

Today will start off cloudy, however throughout the afternoon the clouds should begin to break up as some drier air moves in from the southwest. Without the persistent fog and mist in place, temperatures will have a bit more mobility than they have the past couple days, and Winnipeg should see a daytime high near 3°C. Winds should remain fairly light through the day out of the south to southwest. Expect clear skies giving way to a bit of cloud on Friday night, with temperatures dipping to a low near -3°C.

Saturday morning will start off with some cloud in the area as a warm front pushes through, but then we should see clearing and some sunshine for the afternoon.1 Temperatures should climb to a high near 3°C again with light winds out of the south to southeast. Skies should remain fairly clear on Saturday night with a low near -3°C again.

Sunday will bring increasing cloud to the city through the day as a significant weather system begins organizing south of the border. While skies will be mixed, temperatures will still be pleasant with highs yet again near 3°C. Winds will be out of the southeast at 10-20 km/h. Cloud cover will increase on Sunday night with temperatures dipping down to around 0°C.

Record Warmth

So far this month, Winnipeg has had an average high temperature of 8.1°C. With the forecast temperatures ahead, November will end with an average high temperature near 7.1°C and a mean temperature2 of approximately 2.6°C. The average high temperature will likely end up taking the or spot for warmest Novembers by average high temperature.

Daily High (°C)
Daily Mean (°C)
Daily Low (°C)
17.2 (2016)3.1 (2016)-1.1 (2016)
27.1 (2009)1.3 (1899)-3.2 (1923)
36.4 (1999)1.3 (1923)-3.3 (1899)
45.8 (1899)1.0 (1981)-3.3 (1922)
55.8 (1923)0.9 (2001)-3.5 (1981)
65.7 (2001)0.8 (2009)-3.6 (1917)
75.5 (1981)0.6 (1999)-3.7 (1953)
85.3 (1939)0.5 (1917)-3.9 (2001)
95.2 (1904)0.2 (1922)-4.3 (1918)
104.6 (1917)0.1 (1953)-4.3 (1944)

So far November has had an average overnight low of -0.8°C, with a forecast month-average of -1.0°C. This is a whopping 2.2°C above the previous record of -3.2°C set in 1923. The monthly mean temperature is forecast to end up at about 2.6°C, which crushes the previous record by 1.3°C. To put that in perspective, Winnipeg is forecast to break the previous monthly mean temperature record by the same amount as the spread from the current record to the 10th place entry.

Long Range

The start of next week threatens another winter storm for the region as a Colorado Low moves into Minnesota. Again there’s quite a bit of uncertainty as to how progressive the system will be and whether it will back into the Red River Valley or end up further east and missing the province. The general agreement is that the Red River Valley will be hit by this system, but how much precipitation will fall is a wild card.

The big challenge with this system, should it actually hit the Red River Valley, will be what will actually fall out of the sky. Best indications are that much of what falls may actually be rain rather than snow, but it’s far too early to put too much stock in any particular forecast other than saying that this system, should it hit Winnipeg, will likely bring a wintery mix to the region. We’ll be keeping an eye on it as the system develops!

Winnipeg’s seasonal daytime high is currently -5°C while the seasonal overnight low is -13°C.

  1. Most forecast models show clear skies in the afternoon behind the warm front, however a few outliers want to keep things cloudy. At this point, with a broad southwest to westerly flow expected in the warm sector, I think that skies should manage to clear out, but we’ll keep an eye on things incase pesky cloud manages to stick around. 
  2. The mean temperature is an average of high and low temperatures of each day. 

Cooler Weekend A Seasonal Reality Check for Winnipeg

Temperatures will be startlingly colder this weekend than we’ve seen through the first half of November, but despite the shock to the system, Winnipeg will simply be seeing temperatures closer to typical values for this time of year.

The weather through the weekend will be relatively benign overall, with the major storm system forecast once upon a time to slam the Manitoba Red River Valley now taking a significantly more southwards track, instead tracking across central Minnesota into Northern Ontario. With that major system moving through to our south, we’ll be left with cloudy skies and a brisk north wind to 30 gusting 50 km/h. Temperatures will be much cooler with a high near +1°C

As cooler air slumps southwards through the day, narrow bands of lake-effect snow will fire up off of the south basin of Lake Winnipeg. At this point, it appears that the line will run north-south and primarily impact a line between Selkirk and St. Clements southwards towards Springfield. Beausejour may end up just east of the main band, but slight shifts in the wind direction could shift the heaviest band east or westwards. Lighter flurries may make it all the way south of Steinbach. By the time the lake-effect tapers off on Saturday morning, anywhere from 5-15cm of snow may accumulate under the heaviest axis of snow.

If you look to the northwest of the massive Colorado Low blob, a narrow band of lake-effect snow accumulation can be seen east of Winnipeg.
If you look to the northwest of the massive Colorado Low blob, a narrow band of lake-effect snow accumulation can be seen east of Winnipeg.

Skies will begin to clear out on Saturday night, save for locations that see cloud streaming off the lakes. Winds will taper off and temperatures should dip to a low near -6°C.

Saturday will bring a ridge of high pressure to the province, quashing the lake-effect snow and bringing a bit of sunshine and light winds. Highs will reach around 0°C under mixed skies. Saturday night will be partly cloudy with a low near -5°C.

Sunday will bring increasing cloud ahead of a warm front pushing eastwards across the southern Prairies. Temperatures will climb to a high near -1°C with a brisk southeasterly wind at 20-30 km/h. Expect fairly cloudy skies with a chance of some light snow on Sunday night with a low near -4°C.

Back To Normal

As mentioned up top, while these cooler temperatures are a shock to the system, we’re simply in a rapid adjustment back towards seasonal temperatures.

November has been a phenomenally warm month so far, with an average high of 11.3°C, a whopping 9.8°C warmer than the typical average high of 1.4°C through the same 17-day period. Including overnight lows, mean temperatures have been over 6°C above normal, more typical of mid-October than November, and November 2016 has taken the crown with the warmest first half1 of November on record.

Top 6 warmest first halves of November in Winnipeg on record. Credit: Rob's Obs
Top 6 warmest first halves of November in Winnipeg on record. Credit: Rob’s Obs

And, while a brief seasonal snap is on the way, models indicate that by next weekend above-normal temperatures will be back in full force, which could enter the month into the competition for warmest November on record!

Long Range

The system pushing the warm front eastwards across the Prairies on Sunday will continue to push eastwards and bring another chance for snow to the region on Tuesday. After that, it appears that a series of low pressure systems will track to our north and begin building warmer air back into the Prairies.

Winnipeg’s seasonal daytime high is currently -3°C while the seasonal overnight low is -11°C.

  1. First half of November is November 1-15, inclusive. 
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
Location High Temperature Record High Record High Year Type
Gretna 14.8°C 8.7°C 2012 New Record High
Melita 15.8°C 14.6°C 2012 New Record High
Pilot Mound 14.1°C 11.8°C 2012 New Record High
Brandon 13.4°C 13.5°C 1981 Near-Record High
Winnipeg 11.6°C 12.8°C 2012 Near-Record High
Significant Daily High Temperatures across Southern Manitoba on Saturday March 12, 2016
Location High Temperature Record High Record High Year Type
Brandon 12.0°C 11.7°C 1910 New Record High
Gimli 8.6°C 8.5°C 1994 New Record High
Gretna 13.8°C 11.3°C 2012 New Record High
Melita 15.3°C 9.8°C 2007 New Record High
Pilot Mound 12.1°C 9.9°C 2012 New Record High
Pinawa 12.5°C 10.2°C 1996 New Record High
Winnipeg 12.2°C 9.7°C 2012 New Record High
Significant Daily High Temperatures across Southern Manitoba on Sunday March 13, 2016
Location High Temperature Record High Record High Year Type
Melita 17.7°C 15.5°C 2012 New Record High
Portage la Prairie 15.0°C 13°C 2012 New Record High
Pilot Mound 15.0°C 13°C 2012 New Record High
Island Lake 12.3°C 11.2°C 2010 New Record High
The Pas 11.4°C 11.1°C 1929 New Record High
Thompson 10.1°C 9.6°C 2012 New Record High
Brandon 15.2°C 15.2°C 2012 Tied Record High
Berens River 9.3°C 10.4°C 2012 Near-Record High
Fisher Branch 7.1°C 9°C 2012 Near-Record High
Gretna 11.4°C 12.3°C 2012 Near-Record High
Norway House 8.2°C 8.8°C 2010 Near-Record High
Significant Daily High Temperatures across Southern Manitoba on Monday March 14, 2016
Location High Temperature Record High Record High Year Type
Melita 20.5°C[2] 14.8°C 2015 New Record High
Brandon 17.9°C 15.0°C 2015 New Record High
Portage la Prairie 17.1°C 16.6°C 2015 New Record High
Pilot Mound 15.9°C 14.4°C 2015 New Record High
Pinawa 15.5°C 13.3°C 2015 New Record High
Sprague 15.5°C 12.6°C 2015 New Record High
Fisher Branch 12.7°C 12.5°C 1981 New Record High
Winnipeg 13.1°C 13.2°C 2015 Near-Record High
Gimli 10.6°C 11.8°C 1981 Near-Record High
Gretna 14.4°C 15.8°C 2015 Near-Record High
Significant Weather Events in Winnipeg, March 11-15, 2016
Date Record Type Value Record Value Record Year
March 11 Near-Record High Temperature 11.6°C 12.8°C 2012
March 12 New Record High Temperature 12.2°C 9.7°C 2012
March 13 New Record High Dewpoint 7.6°C 6.7°C 2010
March 14 New Record High Dewpoint 7.7°C 6.2°C 2012
March 14 Near-Record High Temperature 13.1°C 13.2°C 2015
March 15 New Daily Rainfall Record 15.6 mm 11.4 mm 1946

  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.  ↩