After more than a week of well above average temperatures, and generally cloudy, damp and foggy conditions, it appears our mid-winter break from winter is nearing an end.
"The forecast models are continuing to come into agreement regarding a “Colorado low-like” system impacting the region Wednesday night through Friday morning," explained CMOS Accredited Weathercaster Chris Sumner. "I'm using the word “like” with this one, because it will be a different kind of Colorado low, one that will bring just as much rain, if not more, than snow depending on where you are in Southern Manitoba. Due to the warm air already in place ahead of its arrival, rain will be the primary precipitation beginning Wednesday night, transitioning to snow on Thursday."
How much snow and rain are we looking at?
"That’s still uncertain, with the timing of the transition from rain to snow playing a big role in those amounts," he noted. "A few millimeters of rain and 5 to 10cms of snow are the early thoughts on what we can expect. The current guidance is for the highest potential of 10+cms of snow is in southwestern Manitoba, with those projected snowfall totals decreasing as you move eastward, but again, that’s based on the current forecast track of the low. If it shifts even a little bit easterly, then the Red River Valley could be in line for higher snowfall totals."
Sumner added, another thing to keep in mind, is the temperatures Thursday, when the bulk of the snow is expected, will be around freezing or just above, meaning there will be quite a bit of melting until the evening hours when temperatures cool.
"At this point, sometime between Thursday morning and mid-afternoon is when we expect that transition from rain to snow to occur," he said. "As the low continues to track, northwesterly winds will pick up on the backside of the system, gusting between 40 to 50 km/h is what we're expecting. Those gusty conditions are expected to line up with the falling snow, so blowing and drifting snow may be a factor throughout Thursday. Lingering flurries are likely into Friday morning before the system is finally out of our area."
It looks like the stretch of “plus” temperatures will be ending, too, after the rainy and snowy conditions.
"Behind the low, a generally northwesterly flow aloft develops, meaning a return to seasonal temperatures is in the forecast starting this weekend into next week," said Sumner. "Another thing I’d like to point out is after the dreary days of late, we are expecting that northwesterly flow to help bring back sunnier conditions, something I think a lot of us would like to see."
Average daytime highs are around -10, with overnight lows of -20. Considering we have been above zero for more than a week, we’ve been consistently 10 to 15 degrees warmer than we should be for the end of January and start of February.