WINNIPEG — The first day of spring is ushering in a change in the forecast, with snow on the way and temperatures falling well below seasonal again.
Winnipeg has had a full helping of everything this winter.
The city has endured extreme cold, especially in the months of December and January. Normally the mean temperature for December would be around -13.2 C. This year it was -20.6 C, making it the sixth coldest December on record. The all-time coldest December was in 1879, when the mean temperature was -26 C.
The mean temperature for January was -20.1 C, still below normal but closer to the average (-16.4 C). This January on its own did not even crack the Top 50 for coldest Januarys.
February’s mean temperature of -20.0 C was just outside the top 20, ranking 21st for coldest on record and the coldest in 35 years. February’s normal mean temperature is -13.2 C.
Of course, snow has been another issue. Usually the total snowfall for the season is 114 centimetres. As of March 19, 151 cm has fallen in Winnipeg and this won’t be the last we’ll see of it. Even if you discount what is still to come in March, April and May usually add another 13 cm.
The last two winters have been summed up really well by Greg MacKay, one of our Global viewers. These three photos were all taken on March 17 of their respective year. In 2011-2012, we had 80.8 cm of snow. The 2012-13 snowfall total was the 14th biggest in recorded history, with 176.6 cm, and this year is not too far off.
Environment Canada meteorologist Dale Marciski recalls the last time Winnipeg saw harsh winters back to back, in the 1990s: 1995-96 and 1996-97.
“Things never repeat exactly in the climate world, and I’m certainly not forecasting anything yet, but those two back-to-back snowy and cold winters of 1995-96 and 1996-97 were followed by a dry and very mild winter of 1997-98. One hopes that next winter will be much nicer,” he said.
The first day of spring could be the last day this March when the temperature goes above 0 C, with highs below -10 C forecast through the weekend and snow forecast for Thursday evening and Friday.