Spring Warmth Brings Showers

Springtime warmth will arrive in Winnipeg as temperatures climb above the freezing mark, but the warmer weather will be accompanied by some rain and snow as a low pressure system moves through the region.

Today will be a very pleasant day in Winnipeg with sunny skies in the morning giving way to mixed skies with temperatures climbing to a high near -2°C.1 Winds will pick up out of the south to around 30 km/h this afternoon. Tonight will bring increasing cloudiness overnight as temperatures drop to a low near -5°C with southerly winds continuing at 20-30 km/h.

Tomorrow will be the mildest day of the next few as an approaching low pressure system moves through the region. Skies will be mainly cloudy to start the day and continue to be cloudy for the remainder of the day. A warm front will move across the Red River Valley through the afternoon, bringing milder temperatures as highs climb to around the +3°C mark. Along with the warmer weather, rain will spread across the Red River Valley in the afternoon with the warm front.2 It appears at this point that the Red River Valley will likely receive 2-4 mm of rain, so nothing too dramatic, although there are some models indicating the potential for 10-15 mm.

The RDPS model is a bit more enthusiastic than the other models, producing around 10mm of rain in the Red River Valley.

The light rain will end in the evening, followed quickly by the winds diminishing. The cloudy skies and warm air over the Red River Valley will keep overnight lows fairly warm, with Winnipeg dropping to around 0°C for a low. Towards early Friday morning, winds will then pick back up out of the northwest as the cold front swings through, which will bring cooler temperatures back into the region.

Friday will continue with mainly cloudy skies and fairly strong northwesterly winds to 40-50 km/h. Temperatures will remain steady near 0°C as any diurnal warming will be offset by the cooler air mass moving into the region. Throughout much of the day there will a decent chance for light snow, but no accumulations are expected at this point.

Friday night will bring diminishing winds, clearing skies, and cooler temperatures with overnight lows dropping to around -14°C.

Long Range

The weekend is looking quite pleasant with partly cloudy skies both Saturday and Sunday and high temperatures climbing back to above normal. At this point, Sunday is looking like it could be quite warm with highs in the 4-8°C range, although those warmer temperatures would likely come with a decent southerly wind. The hope at this point is that any precipitation associated with this warm-up will move across the central and northern Prairies, leaving us dry.

Into next week it looks like a return to near-seasonal temperatures and dry conditions.

Winnipeg’s seasonal daytime high is currently -1°C while the seasonal overnight low is -11°C.

  1. While our high is forecast for the airport location, it's quite likely several sites across Winnipeg see high temperatures closer to +1 or +2°C.
  2. There's a chance that the early stages of the precipitation fall as snow if temperatures haven't warmed quite enough yet, but the transition to rain would follow quickly.

Wild Winter Storm Winds Down

Residents of southern Manitoba can breathe a sigh of relief as conditions begin to improve as the major winter storm that has been hammering the province begins to move off into the Arctic.

Today will bring relief to southern Manitoba as the strong westerly to northwesterly winds in place over the region begin to subside. These winds have created havoc over southwestern Manitoba where some of the worst blizzard conditions in recent memory developed on Monday and persisted throughout the day and into the night on Tuesday. Brandon saw blizzard conditions begin around 5PM on Monday evening and persist all through Tuesday. Numerous motorists had to be rescued from area highways, despite significant notice of extremely poor conditions being given in advance of this storm by Environment Canada.1

This winter storm was driven by a powerful low pressure system that stretched all the way from Western Saskatchewan to Labrador on Tuesday evening.

Winds will subside through the day from around 50 gusting 70 km/h this morning to 30 gusting 50 km/h around midday as the low pushes off to the northeast, allowing the pressure gradient to begin to slacken over the southern portion of the province. While the winds will still be a bit gusty, they should be low enough for visibilities to improve. Temperatures will be cool, however, with a high temperature of just -10°C. Skies will start the day cloudy but break up to more of a mix in the morning.

Skies will be partly cloudy tonight as temperatures drop to a chilly -20°C.

A ridge of high pressure will push into Manitoba from the northwest, ushering colder temperatures into the province.

Thursday will see much colder air pushing into the province as a ridge of high pressure builds into the region. Temperatures will struggle to recover much through the day with highs expected to climb only to around the -17°C mark. This is nearly 15°C below normal for this time of year. Winds will be out of the northwest at around 20-30 km/h under partly cloudy skies. Temperatures will drop even further below normal on Thursday night with lows dipping down to around -27°C under clear skies with light winds.

Friday will be a cool and sunny day with little wind. Highs will be around -17 or -16°C with a low on Friday night near -21°C.

Long Range

The below-normal temperatures will continue through the weekend and into the beginning of next week, although there will be a gradual climb towards near-seasonal conditions. No significant snowfall is expected for Winnipeg the next 7 days.

Winnipeg’s seasonal daytime high is currently -3°C while the seasonal overnight low is -13°C.


  1. Environment Canada issued several special weather statements regarding the storm as well as blizzard warnings well in advance of the storm’s onset. 

Major Winter Storm on the Doorstep

A winter storm rapidly developing over North Dakota will spread snow, freezing rain and showers into Manitoba today, along with increasingly strong northwesterly winds. Conditions will deteriorate rapidly this morning over western Manitoba, while the Red River Valley and southeastern Manitoba see conditions deteriorate later this afternoon when temperatures begin to drop and any showers change over to snow.

Winnipeg Forecast

Warm air will be reinforced over the Red River Valley ahead of this low pressure system as east to southeasterly winds increase to around 30 gusting 50 km/h develop, keeping temperatures mild with highs near 3°C today. An area of showers will develop as the main low centre lifts into the province out of North Dakota a bit later in the morning, spreading northwards through the afternoon. Rainfall totals throughout the Red River Valley will be variable thanks to the showery nature of the rain, but in general between 2-10mm seems most likely. If some more intense showers develop, there may be a chance for isolated accumulations of 10-20 mm.

Winds will taper off late this afternoon into the early evening as the centre of the low passes through the region. As it moves off to the northeast, winds will then abruptly strengthen out of the west to northwest at 40-50 km/h with gusts up to 70 km/h. Temperatures will quickly drop below zero as some wrap-around snow moves into the Red River Valley.

While some earlier forecasts were showing significant snowfall in the Red River Valley, it looks like the bulk of the snow with this storm will fall over western and northern Manitoba. Here in the valley, the best current indications are that we’ll see a couple centimetres of snow. There are a few outlier models that suggest a secondary shortwave could produce heavy snow over the region in the second half of the night, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in that. I’ll be providing updates via our Facebook and Twitter pages tomorrow night.

  • RDPS Snowfall Forecast valid Monday Night (00-12Z Tuesday March 7, 2016)

The strong winds will persist all night, which when combined with a couple centimetres of new snow may be enough to create local areas of poor visibilities in blowing snow. Temperatures will drop to a low near -10°C.

Tuesday will bring more periods of snow to the Red River Valley with continuing strong winds out of the west. Temperatures will remain steady near around -11 or -12°C. Temperatures will drop to around -16°C on Tuesday night with more strong winds. Any remaining light snow should taper off overnight.

Wednesday will bring an end to the influence of this storm system. The clouds should break up a bit as the winds taper off through the day. Temperatures will remain cool with a high near -10°C. Expect some more clear breaks overnight as an Arctic ridge pushes into the region. Temperatures will fall well below normal with a low near -19°C.

The Big Picture

Rainfall

Rainfall will be the primary story for much of southern Manitoba today as an area of showers develops ahead of a warm front lifting northwards from the United States.

Areas in Manitoba that will see rainfall today.

The biggest unknown is exactly how much rain will fall, which will depend on how intense the area of showers can manage to develop. At the moment it looks like most areas will see 2-5 mm, however there is the potential for higher widespread amounts of 10-15 mm further north in the Interlake. Should any potent convective cells develop, which may happen anywhere in the rain area today, they may be capable of producing isolated accumulations of 10-20 mm.

The rain will move out of the province this evening, replaced by snow.

Freezing Rain

The risk of freezing rain will appear today through western Manitoba into the Interlake.

Freezing rain is possible over western Manitoba & the Interlake today and into tonight.

The threat for freezing rain will move into western Manitoba this morning and persist until midday. Accumulating freezing rain is possible, with the risk for several mm of ice accumulation. This threat will then lift into the Interlake for the afternoon and onwards into northern Manitoba tonight.

Snowfall

The major impact from this storm will the snowfall and associated winds.

A major snowfall event will occur over eastern Saskatchewan, western Manitoba and northern Manitboa with this winter storm.

The snow is already falling across eastern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba and will spread eastwards into western Manitoba for the afternoon. Snowfall amounts will be major, with upwards of 40-50 cm expected to fall through the heaviest band in Northern Manitoba. Further south, a north-south swath of 10-30 cm will pile up by Tuesday morning. There will be a relatively sharp cut-off from the heavy snow to just minor accumulations on both the eastern/southeastern and western flanks.

This heavy snow will combine with strong northwest to westerly winds to produce an extended period of blizzard conditions, likely lasting over 24 hours. If you are in the areas that will see heavy snow move in today, it will be best to avoid all travel until conditions improve.

Long Range

Once everything finally calms down on Wednesday, we’ll move into an extended period of below-normal temperatures with daytime highs falling to the mid-minus teens and lows falling below -20°C. No precipitation is expected in the second half of the week.

Winnipeg’s seasonal daytime high is currently -4°C while the seasonal overnight low is -14°C.

Blast of Pacific Warmth On The Way

After a couple days of below-normal temperatures, significantly warmer weather is on the way as a wave of warmth surges eastwards across the Prairies. The transition may be a little uncomfortable, but a mild weekend lays ahead.

Today will begin the transition to warmer weather in the Red River Valley. That means that while we see the hope of warmer temperatures, we’re buffeted by the reality of harsh southerly winds in the still-present cold.

Those south to southeasterly winds will pick up this morning and strengthen to around 30 km/h. Today won’t have a “high temperature” so much as a “climbing temperature.” By this evening, the temperature will have climbed to -7 or -6°C and then will continue to rise overnight to near -5°C by Saturday morning. The winds will remain breezy out of the south to southeast overnight. Skies will cloud over as the day progresses.

The RDPS shows temperatures climbing to around -7°C this afternoon.

Saturday will see very mild temperatures move into the region as highs climb to about +3°C. However, the winds will strengthen in the morning and then continue through much of the day, sustained near 40 km/h with gusts on top of that. Skies will remain mostly cloudy, but the odd glimpse of sunshine is possible. Winds will diminish fairly quickly in the evening as temperatures fall to a low near -3°C under mixed to mostly cloudy skies.

Strong southerly winds will be in place over the Red River Valley on Saturday

Sunday will bring mixed to mainly cloudy skies and much lighter winds to the region. With temperatures still climbing to +1 or +2°C, it will be probably the most pleasant day of the next 3. There may be a small chance of some light snow or rain, but indications are that the band will remain light and likely pass northwest of the Red River Valley. Temperatures will then drop to around 0°C on Sunday night with the cloud cover thickening up.

Long Range

The beginning of next week poses a bit of a challenge as a pair of low pressure systems begin developing over Montana and Colorado, then progress to merge into a potent low pressure system over Nebraska that then lifts north-northeast towards Lake of the Woods.

This system will begin developing on Sunday, with the northern flank of precipitation spreading across southern Saskatchewan and into western Manitoba. A second wave of precipitation is forecast to develop on Sunday night, potentially spreading across SW Manitoba and into the Red River Valley by Monday morning.

Then, as the system intensifies on Monday, the northern flank is to collapse somewhat as all of the energy focuses around the surface low, spreading fairly intense precipitation northwards through the Dakotas and Minnesota into south-central and southeastern Manitoba.

The GDPS is showing up to 6-8″ of snow in Winnipeg next Monday/Tuesday, but that’s probably not worth much at this point.

There are a lot of uncertainties associated with this system as of Friday morning. Whenever these deep, potent Colorado Low systems develop with a precursor low further north, there end up being numerous interactions between the two systems that complicate their energy distribution. While the overall solution is believable1, the details matter and are fairly fuzzy at this point. This system will be a combination of rain and snow and have a sharp western/northwestern edge, so a shift of even 50km may mean the difference between snow or nothing, or between some rain or 10 inches of snow.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this system, and may issues our Monday forecast on Sunday evening if it looks like the system is going to be of significant impact early in the day on Monday. Enjoy the mild temperatures until then, hopefully the wind isn’t too uncomfortable!


  1. It’s favoured for the southern low to overtake the northern low as it receives more energy from the upper-level jet circulation to its southeast.