Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Weekend weather

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Feel like you're driving through the Grand Canyon or the Ice Planet Hoth from the Star Wars universe when you get behind the wheel of your car?

Well, the Weather Column can tell you why. The problem is -- and you're going to want to pay close attention here -- we have had way too much (extremely bad word) snow this winter.

And you don't have to take my word for it. According to my good friend Dale Marciski from Environment Canada, the city has recorded 117 centimetres of snow so far this season, compared to the normal snowfall of 72 cm at this time of year.

"We are well above normal for snowfall," Dale explained Friday. "There's a lot out there. And we still have a lot of winter to go. We often get quite a lot of snow in March."

Technically, we had virtually the same amount of snow on the ground at this time last winter, "but I think this year we've had more drifting so the snowbanks could be much higher."

And here's a treat for you: There's more snow in the forecast. There's a 30 per cent chance of flurries today and Monday, with a 60 per cent chance of another dusting on Thursday.

If you care, the record snowfall for November to April is 243 cm in 1955-56, but Dale wants to reassure you "there's no suggestion we'll get those numbers this year."

The weather office says today and Sunday will be a touch warmer -- with a high of -14 C today and -11 C Sunday -- but we'll still be below the normal high of -8 C at this time of year.

Starting Monday, however, some mild Pacific air will flood across the Prairies, giving us a bit of relief from the (cue eerie sound effects) polar vortex, and pushing temperatures above normal. By week's end -- HURRAY! -- highs could be around the -2 C mark.

"If you're in western Manitoba, you could actually see temperatures above freezing during the week," Dale pointed out.

"Will it (the reprieve) last? It's still February, and we never forecast the beginning of spring in February. In a week's time, it may start cooling off again. But there's hope some the worst stuff is behind us."

Fortunately, there are some hot events set for the holiday weekend to help Mother Nature warm our spirits.

For instance, tonight, the third floor of the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg will be transformed into Bourbon Street for Winnipeg Mardi Gras. You can stuff yourself with gumbo, freshly shucked oysters and alligator fritters, then burn off those carbs dancing to Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers. Tickets are $16 at Ticketmaster.

Speaking of food and fun, roll on down to Voyageur Park in Whittier Park for the 45th Festival du Voyageur, Western Canada's largest winter festival, featuring awesome music and eats. Passes are $8 to $25 at 233 Provencher Blvd. Visit festivalvoyageur.mb.ca for full information.

Then prepare to get misty-eyed listening to some of the best bagpipers and drummers in the land at the Winnipeg Scottish Festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the convention centre. My son will be the good-looking kid in the kilt.

And don't forget to take a break from watching the Olympics on your big-screen TV to head outside and salute the nearest Maple Leaf, because today is National Flag of Canada Day.

Regardless of the weather, it will warm your heart to spend a little time flapping in the breeze.

Happy Louis Riel Day!

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 15, 2014 A2

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