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Comparing the different forecasts for spring weather

battleground  Alberta may be on the dividing line between 
two patterns, leading to unstable weather

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For those of you who have read this column over the last year or so you might have figured out that I really don’t like the idea of using average temperatures. We almost never have average temperatures, so why do we use this as a gauge as to how warm or cold a particular day is?

Averages are made up by calculating the mean value of a whole series of numbers. If we were to look at temperatures for a particular day over a 30-year period I would really be surprised if we had more than a couple of days that were right around the average. Most of the days would either be warmer or colder than average. Over a period of 30 years we eventually get an average temperature.

When you have a relatively stable climate, the “average” temperature will remain relatively stable. This means that any periods of unusually cold temperatures will eventually be followed by a period of warm weather. The result is that you have a “normal or average” temperature. So, of course, if we see a period of warm temperatures it only makes sense that we should eventually see a period of cold temperatures.

However, I don’t believe we are in a relatively stable climate pattern anymore. The whole idea of global warming is that we will experience warm periods just like we did in the past, but these warm periods will be followed by the averaging cold period less and less often. The result is that the overall temperature increases.

I still hear most people saying after one or two cold days, “I thought this was supposed to be global warming?” No, that is not global warming. Seeing nine months in a row of above-average temperatures might not even be seen as global warming. Seeing global record-warm temperature records outnumber record cold records by over 10 to one over the last five years does, at least to me, signify some kind of global warming.

Spring outlook

So, where am I going with this? Well, into our spring weather outlook of course! Looking at the different long-range weather forecasters, here is what we might expect our spring to be like this year.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac this spring is going to be cold and dry, with March being the coldest month and each month after that being a little warmer. Over at the Canadian Farmer’s Almanac they appear to be calling for a colder-than-average start to spring, with a slow warming trend towards average temperatures. Their call for precipitation is always difficult to figure out, but they do mention stormy, showery weather quite often, so I would have to go with average to above-average precipitation.

Over at Environment Canada they are calling for near- to below-average temperatures this spring along with near- to below-average amounts of precipitation. I also took a look at what the Weather Network was calling for this spring and it indicated that southern and central areas of Alberta would see near-average temperatures while northern regions would experience below-average temperatures. It also forecasted precipitation to be below average over southern regions with near-normal amounts of precipitation elsewhere.

Last but not least is my spring weather outlook. For this forecast I am going purely on a gut feeling. With an early snowmelt across much of central North America and low amounts of surface water, I am leaning towards warmer-than-average conditions this spring along with below-average precipitation. I do feel that the northwestern part of North America will continue to see below-average temperatures and the big question is where the dividing line between this colder weather and the warm weather will end up.

There is a chance that Alberta may end up being the battleground between these two patterns which would mean plenty of unsettled weather this spring.

About the author

AF Contributor

Daniel Bezte

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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