The Senior Climatologist with Environment Canada says it will not be a quick transition to spring in southern Manitoba.
March 1st marks the first day of spring on the meteorological calendar. For those who buy into the theory that if March comes in like a lamb, it will go out like a lion, or vice versa, David Phillips says March in southern Manitoba is actually coming in more like frozen mutton. He notes the first two days of March are expected to be cooler than normal before we soar above the freezing mark on Friday.
And, Phillips says that is sort of how the Month of March will be for this part of the country. There will be no transition from balaclavas to muscle shirts, but rather a lingering of winter.
"I think the operative word this year is patience," he says, noting there will be moments when it feels like the polar vortex is still around.
But Phillips says the good thing about this time of year is that any stretches of winterlike weather are usually short-lived, lasting maybe three days instead of eight, and the intensity of the cold is usually not as great either.
As for the entirety of meteorological spring, which ends on May 31st, Phillips is calling for it to be normal to slightly cooler than normal. As mentioned, March will be on the cooler side before things start to really warm up in April and May.
In terms of precipitation, Phillips says do not expect the same amount of snow as last spring.
"I would bet my pension on the fact that this year will not be a repeat of what we saw last year," he says boldly.
Phillips explains that there is something in weather called persistence and what you see is what you are going to get. He says that can be either good news or bad news. For example, last spring when the first storm rolled through southern Manitoba, Phillips says it greased the skids for its cousins, brothers and sisters to follow behind. The end result was a parade of snowstorms that walloped southern Manitoba, producing record amounts of precipitation last spring.
But Phillips says this year those storms are staying to the south of us. And, he says that signals a good news situation, giving him confidence that future storms will likely continue to track to the south. Having said that, he reminds us that generally speaking about 30 per cent of the annual snowfall in southern Manitoba falls after March 1st. And he notes it is usually packed with moisture.
Meanwhile, one streak came to an end this last winter. The months of June through November were all warmer than normal last year in southern Manitoba. But then came to December, which Phillips says ended up being about half a degree cooler than normal. January was then nearly three degrees warmer than normal before February produced a month that was cooler again. In fact, Phillips says February was the coldest month of the entire winter.
In terms of really cold days, Phillips says we normally have 13 days each winter where the mercury drops to at least -30 degrees. We reached that exact total this year with four in December, four in January and five in February. But that is nearly half of what we had last year when there were 24 such days. When comparing this winter to last winter, Phillips says last winter averaged three to four degrees colder, with twice as much precipitation.
"Let me give you a good little piece of good news for you, I took a sneak look at the summer forecast," says Phillips. "June, July and August, it looks warmer than normal."