January 13, 2014
By Kevin Weedmark
After the long, cold winter last year, this winter had to be better.
The bad news is, this winter is turning out to be even colder, the good news is, it shouldn’t last as long, says Environment Canada Senior Climatologist David Phillips.
The current upturn in temperatures is the first sustained break in the cold since the icy weather began in November.
“In a few days you’re going from minus 30 in Moosomin to minus four. That’s an incredible change,” says David Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist.
“We’re showing that by the 15th or 17th of the month, it will turn colder again, but I always think of this as a glorious time in Saskatchewan—there’s more weather behind you than in front of you.”
While Environment Canada’s models are showing colder than normal average temperatures through January and February, Phillips says spring should come earlier.
“Winter will be shorter than last year,” he said. “It went until May last year. We’re not going to see the duration of the cold.”
While last winter seemed to go on forever, this winter had persistent cold from November through early January.
“The cold has been so persistent—you’re not getting a break, just an intermission between two weather maps,” he said.
“This warming trend will be the first time in a long time when the weather is above normal in Moosomin for several days in a row.
“There were some warm days, but those were two-day wonders, now you will have at least seven days in a row, one whole week with temperatures above normal. That will have two benefits. One is, it’s going to feel warmer, but it will also make winter feel a little shorter.”
“And the weather should be warmer from here on in.”
Phillips said the persistent extreme cold for the first half of winter is unusual.
“It’s not normal,” he said. “Typically the cold bouts in Saskatchewan are long, but they don’t go on forever.
“It has actually been colder than last year, although it will end in March, not go on till May, like last year.
“We saw temperatures in December, almost seven degrees below normal, and this winter you had 16 days where you had temperatures below -30. Last year, you had six of those. I would tell you to suck it up—the problem is you might scald your lungs with these temperatures.
“Maybe nature is saying the crop was pretty good this summer so you’ve used up all your IOUs.”
Environment Canada expects a warmer spring than last year.
“We’re calling for April, May and June to be near normal, so you should be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Phillips said.
Phillips said we can blame the Arctic Vortex for the cold weather in the northern half of North America—the only region in the world with below average temperatures in December.
“Arctic Vortex sounds like something that came out of the fertile mind of a meteorologist on night shift, but that is the technical term,” Phillips said.
“All storms are vortices, and this one is bringing cold weather from Tuktoyaktuk to Tallahassee.”