Massive Warm-Up On The Way

Today will mark a bitterly cold end to the week, but significantly warmer weather is on the way as the jet stream pushes northwards and allows mild Pacific air to spill across the Prairies.

Unfortunately, before we get to the warmer weather, we have to make it through today which will be, generally speaking, miserable.

We’re off to a cold start with an extreme cold warning as temperatures sit below -30°C with wind chill values dipping below -40. Warmer weather will attempt to push into the region today, but cold air will be pumped northwards up the Red River Valley out of the Arctic high that is now to our southeast. This combination will make today particularly uncomfortable as our freezing, but relatively calm, morning turns into a cold and uncomfortably windy afternoon.

Temperatures will climb to a high near -19°C today but winds strengthen midday out of the south to 30-40 km/h, maintaining wind chill values near -30. These strong southerly winds will likely produce areas of poor visibility in blowing snow throughout the rural regions of the Red River Valley.

Winds will taper off tonight as the warm front finally pushes through the region, allowing warmer air to finally push into the Red River Valley.

The 4km NAM picks up on the stronger southerly winds of 30-40 *km/h* expected through the Red River Valley today.

Temperatures will dip just a few degrees to -22°C tonight.

Saturday will be much nicer with winds of 10-20 km/h out of the south-southwest, just a few clouds and a high near -12°C. We’ll see a few clouds overnight as temperatures drop to -15°C or so.

Sunday will be another nice day with mixed skies, winds of 15-25 km/h, and a high near -7°C. Skies will be clear on Sunday night with a low near -13°C.

Long Range

The good news is that even warmer air is on the way next week and it doesn’t look like it’s going to go anywhere any time soon.

  • CPC 6-10 Day Temperature Anomaly Forecast valid January 18-22, 2017

There is fairly good agreement across multiple models and agencies that the upcoming pattern change will be prolonged and produce generally above-normal temperatures for the next 2-3 weeks. At the moment, next week looks warm with daytime highs climbing to the freezing mark with little precipitation expected.

Mild Weather Returns for End of Weekend

Bitterly cold temperatures will be in place today as a strong Arctic ridge of high pressure moves through the region. This cold snap will be short-lived as warmer air begins moving into the region through the weekend; by Sunday, milder temperatures will be in place alongside some light snow.

Today will be, temperature-wise, the coldest day of the week as temperatures are held back by the breezy northwesterly winds of an advancing Arctic air mass. Temperatures will recover only a little bit as they struggle to climb to an afternoon high near -21°C before quickly beginning to drop as the sun goes down this evening.

Environment Canada's extreme cold warning issued Thursday afternoon.
Environment Canada’s extreme cold warning issued Thursday afternoon.

Temperatures will plummet to the -30°C mark by Saturday morning as winds gradually diminish. Wind chills this morning as well as tonight will likely be flirting closely with the -40 mark. Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for much of the province because of that.

Saturday may end up feeling like a colder day than Friday; while warmer temperatures may begin to work into the region, they’ll be accompanied by those famous winter southerlies that result in a fairly miserable transition day to warmer weather. While temperatures will rise towards -15°C by the end of the day, southerly winds will strengthen to around 40km/h making it feel significantly colder than it actually is. As a warm front begins moving into Manitoba later in the day, it will spread cloud cover into the Red River Valley and by mid-evening, it seems likely that skies will be mixed to cloudy with a chance of flurries. It will stay fairly windy through the night as temperatures continue to rise to around -12°C by Sunday morning.

GDPS 850mb temperature forecast valid Sunday evening
A frontal wave will pass through Manitoba on Sunday brininging warmer weather and light snow.

Sunday will be significantly more pleasant as mild weather continues to move into the region. Temperatures will climb to near -6°C on Sunday afternoon with light winds and a good chance of light snow. No significant accumulations are expected with Sunday’s disturbance, although 1-2cm of snow could pile up locally. Temperatures will fall to just -9 or -10°C on Sunday night under cloudy skies.

Long Range: Generally Mild

Looking ahead into next week, it looks like Southern Manitoba is transitioning into a generally above-normal temperature pattern.

CPC 6-10 Day Temperature Anomaly Forecast
The CPC is calling for above normal temperatures in the 6-10 day timeframe.

Milder Pacific air will be building into the province through much of next week. The start of next week will see a bit more variability in temperatures, with some days above normal and some below, but by the second half of the week there seems to be a fair amount of confidence of temperatures switching to a more persistent above-normal pattern. Current guidance places daytime highs near -5°C by the end of next week into the week after.

Through this period, no significant precipitation events are expected.

The normal daytime high for Winnipeg is currently -9°C and the normal overnight low is -19°C.

Alberta Clipper Plunges Manitoba Into The Deep Freeze

An Alberta Clipper moving through the province on Friday into Saturday will pack a potent punch – likely the worst storm so far this winter for most places, including Winnipeg – bringing a decent shot of snow alongside strong winds producing significant blowing snow. To cap things off, a bitterly cold air mass will move into the region bringing extremely cold temperatures & wind chill.

Friday
-14°C / -21°C
Early morning flurries, then snow beginning late in the day
Saturday
⇓ -26°C / -32°C
Snow tapering off then clearing; windy & cold
Sunday
-27°C / -33°C
Mainly sunny

Friday will start off mainly cloudy as a brief shot of light snow exits the province. Amounts from this band will be just a couple cm or less and this leading impulse will be nothing compared to what will be moving in later in the day.

Before that, though, skies will become more mixed with temperatures gradually climbing to around –14°C. Winds will remain relatively light until the Alberta Clipper moves into the region tonight.

Snow will push into Southwestern & Parkland Manitoba this afternoon and quickly spread eastwards across the remainder of the province by the evening. Snowfall will be quite intense, with rates reaching as much as 2cm/hr in the heaviest band. The heaviest snow will fall through Friday night and then taper off from west to east through the day on Saturday.

Expected snowfall totals across Southern Manitoba. The heaviest snow is expected to fall within 50km or so on either side of the U.S. border.
Expected snowfall totals across Southern Manitoba. The heaviest snow is expected to fall within 50km or so on either side of the U.S. border.

By the time the snow tapers off on Saturday, up to 25cm of snow may have fallen through the heaviest band of snow which is centered along the international border and cuts across the Southern Red River Valley. Winnipeg will likely receive on the higher end of 10–15cm of snow while amounts then taper off through the northern Parkland region and central Interlake.

Measuring that snow may be quite difficult, though, as strong northwesterly winds to 40km/h move into the Red River Valley. With all the fresh snow, widespread blowing snow is very likely on area highways with the potential for significant restrictions to visibility. In areas of the southern Red River Valley, we may even see the development of a full-on blizzard with the higher amount of fresh snowfall and slightly stronger winds due to the funnelling of the valley. Driving conditions will likely be quite poor, so be sure to give yourself plenty of additional time if you need to travel and remember to always carry a winter survival kit in your vehicle.


There’s only one story once the snow tapers off on Saturday and skies begin to clear: bitter cold. It’s going to get very, very cold across the entire province with the coldest air mass of the season diving southwards behind the clipper. Saturday will see temperatures slipping through the day to around –26°C which will then plummet down to –32 or –33°C overnight. With winds of 10–20km/h persisting overnight, wind chill values of –40 to –45 will be widespread through Southern Manitoba.[1]

Sunday will bring barely any recovery with temperatures struggling to get to a paltry –27°C. Expect the low on Sunday night to dip back down to –32 or –33°C with wind chills agin in the –40 to –45 range.

No Warmth In The Long-Range

Looking ahead to next week, conditions look dry with little to offer as reprieve from the cold. Daytime highs will moderate towards the –20°C mark, but overnight lows in the low minus-twenties will be sticking around for a while.

The NAEFS 8-14 day temperature anomaly outlook.
The NAEFS 8–14 day temperature anomaly outlook.

Looking even further ahead, there are little in the way of strong signals. There’s about a 50/50 chance of below-seasonal temperatures continuing, but compared to this week, it’s at least a trend towards more seasonal temperatures. It’s not much, but when we’re getting as cold as we will this weekend, I’ll take what I can get.


  1. This will likely result in an extreme cold warning being issued by Environment Canada, as their criteria is a temperature or wind chill colder than –40.  ↩