One could say this winter is playing out exactly as forecast by Environment Canada. Back in early November, senior climatologist David Phillips warned Manitobans that the winter of 2021-22 would be colder and snowier than normal. Here we are in the middle of February, and that forecast is bang on.
According to Phillips, January and February have so far produced temperatures that are between three and five degrees colder than normal for this part of the province. He notes that might not seem like much, but when you consider it is spread out of over 45 days, that suddenly becomes much more significant.
On the snow side, as of Tuesday morning, areas like Steinbach had received about 130 centimetres of snow for the winter. That is about 85 per cent more than normal.
Phillips says people often question whether it can ever be too cold to snow. He notes there is some truth to that, as you do not normally get as much snow in colder weather. However, the opposite would ring true this year. Phillips confirms what southern Manitobans have known for some time now, that we seem to be caught in this continuous cycle of Alberta Clipper, followed by strong winds and then cold air...Alberta Clipper, followed by strong winds and then cold air...Alberta Clipper...
"We've had more snow than normal, but it just seems to come in little dribs and drabs and I think that that has really worn you out," says Phillips. "I think it's really just the persistence of the same crud just day after day and week after week that must get people thinking this is too much, cry uncle and you want some kind of spring-like weather to come."
But, according to Phillips, spring-like weather is not just around the corner. He suggests Manitobans will have to be patient as right now there is no warm air from the south that is about to rescue us. Phillips says the winter weather will last for a little while yet. In fact, Phillips says nearly one-quarter of southern Manitoba's winter snowfall generally comes after March 1.
Speaking of Alberta Clippers, Phillips gently scolds Manitobans for placing too much blame on Wild Rose Country. He notes sometimes these clippers generate elsewhere and could be Mackenzie Clippers or even a Saskatchewan Slasher. Since we are on the topic, Phillips says some Americans worry about storms from Manitoba called Manitoba Mashers which have the same characteristics to a clipper.
Meanwhile, Phillips says for those not amused by all of the snow this winter, it could be worse. Even though southern Manitoba has already had about 40 days of snow, he notes only twice have we had as much as 10 centimetres in a single day. And, he says clippers pack much less punch than Colorado Lows.
"(A Colorado Low) strikes fear in the hearts of many Manitobans because they give you a huge dump of snow," he adds.
And, once again, Phillips maintains that just because you have a harsh winter, that does not mean you can expect a beautiful summer will follow in order to make up for it.
"But our models seem to suggest that it looks like a warmer than normal summer," Phillips hints. "Not based on what we saw in the winter, just based on kind of circulation patterns."
In the meantime, southern Manitoba will continue with the cycle of a clipper hitting the region every few days. It appears the next one is scheduled to arrive sometime Thursday night and into Friday.