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If you like cold, the first half of April delivered in spades

Most forecasts predicted it would be chilly, but they’re split on what May and June have in store for us

After dealing with a cold and snowy March, most of us across the Prairies were hoping for a little better weather in April.

Just how good or bad you saw April’s weather depends on what you wanted. For example, the cross-country skiers were more than happy in my region as the cold start to the month extended their season well into April.

Looking back at the overall numbers for April, it is probably not surprising to anyone that temperatures across all three Prairie provinces were well below average. What was a little surprising was the uniformity of temperatures across this wide region. Mean monthly temperatures across the main stations I use ranged from 1.3 C in Calgary to around -1.4 C in Brandon and Peace River. Comparing these values to the long-term average revealed that most areas were between 3 and 5 C below average for the month.

If we break down the month into a first and second half, the numbers become a little more interesting. The first half of the month saw temperatures that were between 8 to 12 C below the long-term average, while the second half of the month saw temperatures that were about 2 C warmer than average. This helps to put into perspective just how cold a start we had in April.

Precipitation was also uniform across the Prairies in April, and overall amounts were light. The Calgary region was the only area that came close to seeing an average amount of precipitation during the month. Farther north, Edmonton and Peace River saw about 50 per cent of average. Moving eastwards it gets even drier, with Saskatoon reporting only about 25 per cent of average. (Unfortunately, I don’t have final numbers for Regina as Environment Canada does not have any data showing from April 22 onwards.) In Manitoba, it was very dry, with both the Winnipeg and Dauphin regions reporting less than a couple of millimetres of precipitation. This converts to about seven per cent of average. The Brandon region didn’t see much more, with around six millimetres of precipitation, which is about 25 per cent of average.

Overall, it was a cold and dry April across the Prairies, with the exception of southern Alberta, which was cold with near-average amounts of precipitation.

Looking back at the different forecasts for the month, all of them except the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac correctly predicted the colder-than-average temperatures. But none correctly called for the below-average amounts of precipitation, as most predicted near-average amounts. If we had to pick the closest precipitation forecasts, I would have to go with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Climate Forecast System (CFS) models as they called for near-average amounts, with southern Alberta seeing above-average amounts.

Now on to May and June’s forecasts.

Environment Canada is calling for a 50 per cent chance of seeing below-average temperatures, a 30 per cent chance of seeing near-average temperatures, and about a 20 per cent chance of seeing above-average temperatures. So it looks like we will have to go with a cold forecast from EC for the next couple of months. Along with the colder-than-average temperatures, it is calling for near-average amounts of precipitation, with an even split between probabilities of below-, near-, and above-average amounts.

Looking at the CFS model, it is calling for well-above-average temperatures for both May and June, with the warmest temperatures compared to average expected to be over more northerly locations. As for precipitation, it is calling for near- to below-average amounts across most regions, with a slight chance of above-average amounts for extreme southern regions.

Next on the list is NOAA, and it is calling for below-average temperatures across southern regions in May, with near- to above-average temperatures as you go northwards. This then transitions to near-average temperatures in June. The cooler weather in May across southern regions will also be accompanied by above-average amounts of rain, with near-average amounts expected elsewhere. This also transitions into near-average amounts in June across all regions.

Now on to the almanacs.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is calling for near-average temperatures in both May and June, with above-average amounts of precipitation in May and below-average amounts in June. The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac looks like it is calling for near-average temperatures for May as it mentions fair conditions several times, but it does look to be wet with the mention of stormy weather and drenching rains. June looks to have near- to above-average temperatures as it mentions pleasant, warm, and hot conditions. Precipitation looks to be around average as it talks about showers and thunderstorms a few times, which is fairly typical for June.

Finally, my forecast.

I am leaning towards the CFS forecast that is calling for a warmer-than-average May, with the best chances of seeing above-average temperatures over western and northern regions. June looks like it will see near- to slightly above-average temperatures. Precipitation is always the hardest to forecast, but with the warm temperatures in May I am going with below-average rainfall across all regions. I do agree with NOAA, that if any region was going to be wet it would be the extreme southern parts of the Prairies. June will also see warmer-than-average temperatures with near-average amounts of rainfall.

Now, as usual, it is time to see just what Mother Nature will dish out for us this year.

About the author

AF Contributor

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the University of Winnipeg. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park, Manitoba.

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