Do not let this week's mild weather fool you into thinking this is a sign of things to come for the rest of December.
Yesterday's temperature in Winnipeg reached a full 11 degrees warmer than normal for December 1. But David Phillips with Environment Canada says that is entirely different from what is expected to be the flavour of the month for southern Manitoba.
"It looks like in fact, that December is going to be a little cooler than normal," says Phillips. "And the one thing that all the models seem to agree on, is that precipitation looks higher."
Though not the warmest fall on record, Phillips says southern Manitoba has just come through three months of unseasonably mild weather. September was more than three degrees warmer than normal, while October was four degrees above average and November three degrees warmer than normal. Phillips says since the start of fall we have had 35 "freeze days," which are days when the temperature dips below freezing at any point. Normally, southern Manitoba has 50 "freeze days" by December 1.
When breaking down the month of November, Phillips says the coldest it got was -21.3 degrees on November 25.
"That was just keeping you honest," he jokes. "You need those kinds of reality checks to say we're really into the winter season and you need to know whether your block heater is working and where your parka and snow pants are."
On the flip side, the warmest weather came November 6, when the mercury climbed to 16.4 degrees.
In terms of precipitation, Phillips says something unusual happened during the months of October and November. In each of those months, southern Manitoba received above-average precipitation. Phillips says it has been nearly two years since we had back-to-back months with more precipitation than normal. That trend is expected to continue in December.
Not only is December supposed to be colder and snowier than normal, but Phillips says his winter weather outlook, which includes everything from December 1 to February 28 will have that same characteristic. But, Phillips cautions that Manitoba lies smack in the middle of two distinctly different winter forecasts for Canada. He notes it will be a winter of La Nina cold throughout much of western Canada, all the way to Manitoba's Interlake. And then from the Interlake, all the way through central and southern Ontario and out east it is supposed to be warmer than normal.
"Southern Manitoba is caught between that cold to the northwest and the mildness or the warmth of the winter to the southeast," explains Phillips. "So I think what that's going to do is to make it not as brutally cold as you will see in Edmonton or Whitehorse or Yellowknife."
Needless to say, Phillips says we should not expect a repeat of last year. Phillips suggests southern Manitoba really only had two weeks of winter weather last year when the polar vortex bit hard in mid-February. But, having said that, Phillips suggests our winter will be shorter this year than in years past. That is because the winter weather has so far been slow to arrive and starting three weeks from now the hours of daily sunlight will begin to increase.