Unseasonal Warmth Will Challenge Numerous Records

Winnipeg will see the peak warmth of the current weather system move in today with temperatures climbing well above the freezing mark. The unseasonable warmth will challenge several record types: record highs, record high minimums, record high dew points, and record high minimum dew points.

Everything ending in °C will be the highlight over the coming days as even more warm air floods into the region. Today’s high will reach around 4°C, while tomorrow’s and Sunday’s highs will be near 3°C. Overnight lows will remain very mild as well, with lows near 0°C tonight, -5°C tomorrow night and +1°C on Sunday night.

Winnipeg, MB Temperature & Dewpoint Records for February 17-19
DateRecord TypeCurrent Record
February 17High Temperature5.4°C (1981)
High Minimum Temperature0.8 (1998)
High Dewpoint2.0°C (1981)
High Minimum Dewpoint-0.6°C (1998)
February 18High Temperature3.9°C (1954)
High Minimum Temperature-0.2°C (1998)
High Dewpoint0.6°C (1954)
High Minimum Dewpoint-1.3°C (1998)
February 19High Temperature5.6°C (1930)
High Minimum Temperature0.2°C (2016)
High Dewpoint0.6°C (1954)
High Minimum Dewpoint-0.5°C (1981)

These temperatures will challenge many of the records listed above. For daytime highs, it’s important to note that there will likely be significant variability around the city. The official records are for the official Environment & Climate Change Canada observing site located at the Winnipeg airport, which tends to be colder than much of the city during warm spells at this time of year. Throughout the city, temperatures could be anywhere from 2-4°C higher than what’s reported at the ECCC site.

The GDPS is forecasting temperatures up to 12-14°C above normal over the coming few days in Winnipeg.

Skies will see variable cloudiness over the next few days, but we’ll see no real threat of precipitation aside from a very low chance of a light rain shower this evening.

Winds will strength out of the southwest today to around 25-35 km/h with some gustiness, particularly near the western escarpment of the Red River Valley. These winds will continue overnight and then gradually taper off on Saturday. The wind will then swing around to the east/southeast on Saturday night and begin strengthening on Sunday to 20-30 km/h ahead of the next system.

Long Range

The beginning of next week will bring a Colorado Low that poses the threat for significant impact on the region, however it’s difficult to pin down much of a forecast at this point as solutions for this disturbance vary dramatically, with some models dragging the precipitation of the low up the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border and others shunting it well off to the east over Lake Superior.

What we can say is that there will be a Colorado Low that will threaten the region on Monday, potentially into Tuesday. This system will be bringing an abnormally high amount of moisture with it, and with the mild temperatures, that means that any precipitation from it would fall as rain. Forecast amounts have varied, but in general it seems like this system will produce a swath that receives 10-20mm of rain. Whether or not that falls in the Red River Valley will yet to be seen.

That much rainfall would be very abnormal for this time of year. Current rainfall records for this general time of year are:

Winnipeg, MB Rainfall Records for February 19-21
DateRecord TypeCurrent Record
February 19Rainfall1.0mm (1997)
February 20Rainfall0.3mm (1965)
February 21Rainfall5.8mm (1877)

The potential to over double the current record rainfall amount, all the while still having frozen ground with high water content and a fair amount of snow would likely introduce a risk for overland flooding.1 In North Dakota, the NWS has issued hazardous weather outlooks regarding this system for the potential for minor water level rises in low-lying areas and for area rivers. In the end, though, there’s still a lot of uncertainty in where exactly this system will track, so we’ll be keeping an eye on things as it develops.

Otherwise, temperatures will finally begin to cool back towards normal behind this system, but it continues to appear like southern Manitoba will be near the primary storm track and see more frequently unsettled weather through the remainder of next week.

Winnipeg’s seasonal daytime high is currently -8°C while the seasonal overnight low is -18°C.


  1. While I do have training in meteorology, this sort of issue is more of a hydrological challenge. I’m not formally trained in hydrology, but the fields are closely related and I do have some familiarity with it. That said, as it gets closer, monitor the news for any statements from the Province of Manitoba regarding the flooding threat. 

Colorado Low Looms

Our first significant Colorado Low in some time will bring a variety of precipitation types to southern Manitoba today. Rain, snow, freezing rain, and ice pellets will be possible.

A variety of precipitation types will be possible in southern Manitoba today. The map shows areas of rain (green), snow (blue), freezing rain (purple), and ice pellets (red).
A variety of precipitation types will be possible in southern Manitoba today. The map shows areas of rain (green), snow (blue), freezing rain (purple), and ice pellets (red).

Today

Monday
2°C / 1°C
Mixed precipitation early, then rain

A powerful Colorado Low will bring a mixed-bag of precipitation to southern Manitoba today. Precipitation will likely start out as freezing rain or ice pellets in portions of the Red River Valley and south-eastern Manitoba this morning, before changing to rain later in the morning. Rainfall amounts of 5-10 mm are expected in most areas, with higher amounts possible near the International border. There may be a bit of snow at times, but little accumulation is expected – and any that were to accumulate will be melted by rain later in the day. However, the story will be different in western Manitoba, where snow will be the dominant precipitation mode for the day. Accumulations of 5-10 cm are likely in most areas by tonight. Winds will be gusty out of the north-east at 30 km/h gusting to 50 km/h, bringing some blowing and drifting to open parts of western Manitoba.

Tuesday

Tuesday
1°C / -1°C
Periods of snow

This Colorado Low will take its time exiting our region, affecting us once again on Tuesday. Unfortunately (for some), rain will change to snow on Tuesday in the Red River Valley and south-eastern Manitoba. Accumulations of 4-8 cm are likely in addition to possibly a couple millimetres of rain or mixed precipitation early in the day. Western Manitoba can expect another 5-10 cm on Tuesday, bringing totals up to 10-20 cm. The model graphic shown below, which considers a wide-range of possible solution, shows a very high probability (>80%) of over 10 mm of total precipitation in most of southern Manitoba. Winds will remain gusty out of the north on Tuesday at 30 km/h gusting to 50 km/h.

Most of southern Manitoba stands a very high chance of receiving over 10 mm of precipitation with this system (NAEFS graphic).
Most of southern Manitoba stands a very high chance of receiving over 10 mm of precipitation with this system (NAEFS graphic).

Wednesday

Wednesday
-1°C / -4°C
Mainly cloudy with flurries

The Colorado Low will continue to linger on Wednesday, but snowfall rates will decrease. Flurries are expected throughout the day, but accumulations should be small. Winds will remain breezy from the north at 20-30 km/h.

Long Range

It appears that we’ll see generally seasonal to slightly-above seasonal temperatures as we move into early December. However, longer-range models do hint at a very cold arctic air mass being pulling down from the north about one week into the month. This will have to be monitored, as it would be our first significant bought of below-normal temperatures in quite awhile.

Coldest Weather So Far This Season Arrives In Big Pattern Shift

An increasingly active storm track will bring a major winter storm through the Northern Plains of the U.S., drawing colder arctic air southwards cross the Prairies and ushering in the coldest temperatures seen so far in the fall of 2016.

Today will start with a weak system pushing through the Red River Valley, bringing with it a band of showers that will lift northeastwards across the region through the first half of the morning. After that moves through, we’ll be left with fairly cloudy skies as temperatures climb to a high near 9°C. Winds will pick up out of the southeast this morning to around 20-30 km/h, then taper off for the afternoon. Expect the winds to pick back up out of the northwest later in the evening with a slight chance of some very light rain showers or snow flurries overnight as a cold front moves through and temperatures dip down to the 0°C mark.

Thursday will bring mainly cloudy skies as a Colorado Low strengthens south of the border. Winds will be breezy out of the north to northwest at around 20-30 km/h and temperatures will climb to a high of about 3°C.

This history of forecast precipitation for Friday's Colorado Low shows how the GDPS model has developed consistency only in the last day and a half.
This history of forecast precipitation for Friday’s Colorado Low shows how the GDPS model has developed consistency only in the last day and a half.

Since last weekend, it’s been quite clear that a major winter storm was possible on Friday, and that much it got right. However, what at one point looked like a major blizzard for the Red River Valley has since turned into a moderate-strength winter storm for the Dakotas and Minnesota into Wisconsin. There’s a whole discussion on long-range model forecasts, but we’ll leave it at this: while it may get the general pattern right, don’t trust it on the details.

So what will we see instead of a blizzard? Cloudy skies and a stiff north wind likely at 40 gusting to 60 km/h. The southeastern portion of the province may get clipped with some snow from this system, but here in the Red River Valley, the system snow should miss us. There may, however, be a sneak attack from the north as cooler air surges southwards and lake-effect snow fires up over the lakes. Areas in the lee of the lakes may see some light to moderate snow flurries, however these will occur in fairly narrow strips and be highly dependent on the wind direction.

Temperatures will climb to only -1 or 0°C for a high. Expect the cloud and potential lake-effect snow to continue overnight as temperatures fall to a low near -4°C.

Long Range

The weekend looks cool with a continued chance for lake-effect snow through the day on Saturday. Cloud cover will be a mixed bag and highs will be near 0°C with lows near -6°C or so. If we get completely clear skies one night, then temperatures could plummet quite severely, though, so an overnight low below -10°C may be possible if the cloud manages to be scoured out of the Valley.

More Wet Weather on the Way

More rain is in store early this week as a well-developed low pressure system pushes across southern Manitoba. Accumulations will be relatively small in the Red River Valley, but more significant to the north and west.

A strong low pressure system will bring rain to southern Manitoba today
A strong low pressure system will bring rain to southern Manitoba today

This Week

Rain will move into southern Manitoba today in association with a strong low pressure system coming out of Montana. Light rain will likely begin in the Red River Valley this morning, continuing into the afternoon. Models show a break in the rain during the evening hours, which might just provide a good window for trick-or-treating. Regardless of whether it’s raining or not, temperatures will be favourable for the youngsters to be outdoors, with temperatures hovering in the mid-single digits. Total rainfall of 2-5 mm is expected today, with another 2-5 mm tonight. Parts of western Manitoba and the Interlake can expect total accumulations ranging from 10 to 25 mm.

Today’s weather system will still be lingering over Manitoba on Tuesday, with some showers remaining possible through Tuesday morning. A drier flow should develop by Tuesday afternoon, signalling an end to the precipitation. Temperatures will remain relatively normal for late October, with high temperatures in the mid to upper single digits in southern Manitoba. Winds will be breezy out of the west at 20-30 km/h.

Nicer weather should arrive for Wednesday as a ridge of high pressure builds over the region. Mainly sunny skies and temperatures around or just below 10C are expected. Wednesday’s nice conditions should signal the beginning of a significant warm spell which should last into next week. Winds should be relatively light thanks to the surface ridge.

Long Range

Medium- to long-range models have been strongly hinting at a significant warm-up beginning mid to late this week. An anomalously strong upper ridge of high pressure is expected to build over Central North America, signalling a period of well-above seasonal conditions for Manitoba. Given that our normal high is 4C, we can easily expect temperatures of 10-15C. It is not impossible that we reach the upper teens once or twice when the “heat” peaks sometime over the weekend or next week. Models strongly suggest that this above-seasonal pattern will exist for most, if not all, of the first half of November.

An unusually strong upper-level ridge will build over Manitoba by next weekend
An unusually strong upper-level ridge will build over Manitoba by next weekend