As part of our ongoing commitment to higher education, we are going to kick off today's weekend weather forecast with a pop quiz.
Q: How many of you remember the polar vortex? A: Everyone remembers the (bad word) polar vortex, the icy beast that squatted over the Prairies and brought us the coldest winter in more than 100 years.
We are asking this because today we are going to introduce you to the flip side of the polar vortex, arguably our favourite weather system of all time, the omega block.
Our dear friend Dale Marciski at Environment Canada says the omega block is the reason we have been basking in wickedly hot and dry weather since the beginning of August.
What exactly are we talking about? Well, here's how Dale explained it Friday: "The technical term for what we have right now would be the omega block.
"It's a weather pattern that resembles the uppercase Greek letter omega because it has a low-high-low pattern arranged from east to west. If you are in the middle of the omega block, you have warm and dry weather because the weather systems are being deflected around you. "Omega blocks come and they go, but we've had a lot of them this summer."
The weather office says we are looking at another lovely omega-blockish weekend, with a mix of sun and clouds today and a high of 26 C, one teensy degree above the normal high of 25 C.
On Sunday, the outlook calls for more sun and clouds and another high of 26 C, while Dale said a weak low-pressure trough may sneak in and bring us showers on Monday and Tuesday.
Thanks largely to the omega block -- sorry, but we can't say those words enough -- Winnipeg has been running about two degrees hotter than normal since the beginning of August. In case you didn't notice, we are also way drier than normal.
In July, we registered only 25 millimetres of rain, compared to the normal 80 mm. So far this month, we've had just 19 mm of precipitation, meaning it will have to get pretty moist to reach the 77 mm normally dumped on us in the entire month.
"It's below-normal rainfall, but it's not record-breaking," Dale noted. "It's quite a change from what we had in the spring. It shows you how extreme our climate is."
Oddly, while it's been hotter than normal, we haven't seen many days above 30 C, with only two plus-30 days in July and only one so far this month. "Normally, we'd see four days above 30 C in July and five in August," Dale said. "We're a little bit behind, but summer's not over yet."
What's important, Winnipeg, is we take some time this weekend to pay tribute to the omega block by heading out to take in some fun cultural events, such as the final night of Folklorama, which happens to be tonight. Visit folklorama.ca or call 204-982-6222 for more information.
If you want to hang out with the cool kids this weekend, plug yourself in to the fifth-annual Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition (MEME) at various venues around downtown. It began as a one-day blast at the Cube in Old Market Square but has evolved into a four-day celebration of electronic music and digital arts. Visit memetic.ca for the full lineup and ticket info.
Then follow your nose and your ears to the Winnipeg BBQ & Blues Festival at Shaw Park, featuring Colin James, the Robert Cray Band, Watermelon Slim and the Winnipeg Free Press Pit Masters BBQ Championship. Tickets $39.50 or $69.50 at winnipegbbqandblues.ca.
Above all, on Tuesday morning I want you to help make our city a better place by heading to Neechi Commons, 865 Main St., from 9 to 10 a.m. for Bannock for Breakfast, a tasty fundraiser for the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ's fourth-annual CEO Sleepout.
Organized by NDP cabinet minister Kevin Chief and my pal Jason Syvixay of the Downtown BIZ, the buffet-style breakfast Aug. 19 will kick off fundraising for the Sept. 18 sleepout, wherein 150 movers and shakers (including me) will huddle in sleeping bags near the corner of Portage and Main to raise cash and awareness for the homeless.
Breakfast is free for anyone who donates to the campaign (at the breakfast or at changeforthebetter.org) and a tax receipt is available for donations of $20.
Explained the BIZ's Syvixay: "It started out as a simple breakfast meeting between me and Kevin, and it's turned into an event involving the community to educate them about homelessness and poverty issues in our city. So join us for bannock and conversation."
With any luck, the omega block will be there, too.