If you feel like this year has been snowier than anything you remember there's a good reason why.
Rob Paola is a retired Environment Canada meteorologist who still stays active by following weather trends and keeping his own records from his weather station in southwest Winnipeg. He says this winter is shaping up to be one of the snowiest on record for Winnipeg over the course of 150 years.
"It certainly has been a snowier than typical winter that we usually see in Winnipeg," Paola says. On average, Winnipeg sees 127 cm of snow over the course of an entire winter. So far this year, Paola has recorded 156.6 cm at his weather station. And, the season is far from over.
"On average Winnipeg sees about 30 centimetres of snow and 30 millimetres of rain in March and April," he says. "So, there's still plenty of precipitation to add to our total that we have seen so far. What's of concern is that sometimes we can get some of our biggest storms in March and April with these Colorado low type systems where you get some really intense late-season storms as spring tries to make its return back to the prairies with winter still battling to hang on."
Paola says that's it's very possible Winnipeg could end up with over two metres of snow before the season ends.
Historical comparison of this year's seasonal snowfall in Winnipeg as of Feb 20th vs other notable years. On average, Winnipeg gets about 30 cm of snow in March and April, so we could be approaching the 200 cm mark by the end of the season. Last time that happened was 1996-97 pic.twitter.com/mzxrPng7sR— Rob's Obs (@robsobs) February 20, 2022
That could be cause for concern as other snowy years have caused significant flooding. Paola points out that in the winter of 1996-97 there was 143.3 cm of snow by this date. Large storms in the spring caused the Flood of the Century.
He says that another infamous blizzard hit the region in March of 1966. "We've also had other large snowfalls during the month of March and April. So, yes, we still could see additional heavy precipitation on top of what we've seen so far."
According to Paola's records this year has been the third snowiest on record up to February 20.
Seasonal snowfall in Winnipeg as of Feb 20 now up to a whopping 156.6 cm. If we look at Winnipeg snowfall records, that would be the 3rd highest seasonal snowfall on record up to Feb 20th, and is even outpacing the snowy winter of 1996-97 to this point #MBstorm pic.twitter.com/IAReefc0eN— Rob's Obs (@robsobs) February 20, 2022
While Manitobans enjoyed an early spring last year, including people golfing by mid-March, it's pretty safe to say that won't be the case this year.
"Last spring was actually one of the earliest spring melts where we lost our snow cover on record. We lost our snow cover by March 8 last year in Winnipeg and even earlier in other parts of the Red River Valley. We hit a record high of 14 degrees on March 8 last year. So that goes to show how early spring arrived last year because of the lack of snow."
Winnipeg didn't even hit one metre of snowfall last year, and Paola says that allowed warmer spring temperatures "to return much quicker than normal. This year it's a totally different story. We have a very heavy, thick snowpack, and that's going to take a long time for the atmosphere to get rid of. It takes a lot of energy to get rid of that much snow, which means it's going to delay the onset of spring this year well into late March or even April."
While Manitoba has been in the midst of a drought, and Paola is a big weather buff, he says the snow is getting a bit much, even for him. "I think a lot of people have had enough of the snow. It is interesting to note and put into historical perspective now that we're kind of getting into the extreme category with how much snow we're getting. I think we can all use a break by this point, and like everyone else I'm just waiting for spring to arrive."