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WARNING -- If you are already in a blind rage over the brutal cold, you might want to skip today's column and jump ahead to the sports section, because the Jets are doing pretty well these days.

 

OK, don't say we didn't warn you, because we did. We are going to kick off your first weekend weather forecast for March by looking forward and looking back.

We'll start with a look forward. According to ancient weather folklore, if March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.

This year, according to my buddy, Dale Marciski at Environment Canada, "March is coming in like a polar bear."

What does that mean? To me, it means you should not go outside, otherwise March will gobble you down in two gulps, like a fat kid eating a cheeseburger.

To my buddy Dale it means: "Where do polar bears live? They live in the Arctic. It's going to be cold and menacing. It's going to feel like something is biting you this morning.

"The wind chill will be close to -50 Saturday morning. Exposed skin could freeze in five minutes or less."

Along with a wind chill that makes it feel like -50, we are looking at sun and a daytime high of -26 C, compared with the normal high of a balmy -5 C at this time of year.

On Sunday, expect more sun and a high of -20 C. It will be sunny and gradually warmer the rest of the week, with a heavenly high of -8 C Thursday.

Now that we've looked at the winter ahead, let's take a look at the winter we've just survived.

You want statistics? We've got statistics.

What you need to know is, with a mean temperature of -20 C, we have had the coldest February since 1979, when the monthly average was -22 C.

While bone-chilling, it was only our 21st coldest February on record. The record was -26.1 C in February 1875.

As for winter -- by which we mean December to February -- with an average temperature of -20.3 C, it was also the coldest since 1978-79, when the three-month average was -20.8 C.

So, overall, it was the coldest winter in 35 years and the 11th coldest on record.

Before 1979, you'd have to go back to 1935-36 to find a colder winter (It was -21.5 C then, tied with 1892-93).

Here are more fun winter facts:

1) Days with a minimum temperature under -30 C: In December, nine (the normal is three); in January, 12 (normal is six); in February, five (normal is three).

2) Number of days with wind chill -30 or colder -- 74 (normal is 40 days)

3) Number of days with wind chill -40 or colder -- 31 (normal is 12)

4) Number of days with wind chill -50 or colder -- 1 (Jan. 5)

We are also well above the average snowfall, piling up the most white stuff since back in 1996-97. Here's the breakdown:

This winter (Nov. 1-Feb. 28) -- 128 centimetres as of Friday.

Last winter (Nov.-Feb.) -- 120.6 cm

Nov. 1996-Feb. 1997 -- 141.2 cm

Record snowfall -- In 1955-56, we had a stunning 201.1 cm dumped on the city.

Considering the extreme cold, we strongly suggest you stay inside all weekend. In fact, you should probably stay in bed for the next two days.

If you insist on heading out, try some indoor activities, such as checking out the Mid-Canada Boat Show at the RBC Convention Centre, where three floors will be devoted to motors, fishing and boats, which are something we used to use back when our lakes were not covered by thick sheets of ice.

The boat show also features one of our favourite things -- the Mega Fish Tank, a semi-trailer filled with 5,000 gallons of water and stocked with local fish.

Tickets are $12 at the door.

If you are dying to release your inner geek, head to The Forks this weekend for the Dr. Who Festival, billed as: "A chance for all Doctor Who geeks to polish up their sonic screwdrivers and fly their Tardis down to The Forks Market." We're talking costume and trivia contests and a Dalek obstacle course. More details at pylonthestore.com.

Or maybe just park yourself in front of the TV on Sunday night and fall asleep listening to the long-winded acceptance speeches at the 86th Academy Awards.

If you want to stay warm, crumple this column into a ball, throw it in the fireplace and strike a match.

P.S. You should probably open the flue first!

 

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 1, 2014 A2

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