Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Your weekend weather

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What with being The Weather Column That Cares, we're going to kick off our first weekend forecast for 2014 with a heaping helping of hope.

If you can hang on until Thursday -- and that's not a sure thing -- there's a chance we'll be treated to a brief break from the soul-destroying deep freeze that has been gripping us for the last month.

My good buddy Dale Marciski from Environment Canada says they expect some warmer Pacific air to loosen the icy fingers of the mass of cold Arctic air that has been squatting on our frozen shoulders, thanks to winds from the north in the upper atmosphere.

On Thursday, fingers crossed, we may be basking in a near-tropical high of -8 C, which is nicely above the highs in the low minus 20s we've been enduring for weeks. The normal high at this time of year is -13 C, which would be a day at the beach compared to this (very bad word) cold snap.

"I don't want to get too excited yet, but there's a chance the weather pattern will change and warmer Pacific air will come across later in the week," my buddy Dale told me.

"It's too soon to say how long it will last, but we do hold out some hope it will hang around for a few days. If the cold air gets cut off and the milder Pacific air flows over the mountains, if that can persist, temperatures could be near normal or a bit above. It shows there's some hope here."

For the moment, we are looking at a shivering high of just -23 C today, and most of us will be digging out from under an expected 10 to 15 centimetres of snow this morning, thanks to an Alberta clipper that whipped through southern Manitoba Friday.

The forecast high for Sunday is only -26 C and the bone-chilling temperatures should hang in until Thursday. "The (Alberta clipper) storm system goes by and we get the cold Arctic air flooding back down from the north over us," Dale pointed out.

The tragic news is, even though we have survived a brutal December, we don't get the souvenir T-shirt because with an average temperature of -20 C, it was only the sixth-coldest December on record and the second-coldest in the last 120 years. December 2000 was colder at an average of -22 C.

For the record, here are our six coldest Decembers on record: 1) -26 C in 1879; 2) -22.6 C in 1872; 3) -22 C in 2000; 4) -21.8 C in 1876; 5) -21.4 C in 1893; and 6) -20.9 C in 2013.

There's lots of fun stuff to do until Thursday's balmy weather kicks in. If you insist on going outside, you can head down to The Forks to have some cold-weather outdoor fun at Arctic Glacier Winter Park. Speaking of which, on Sunday from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. you can take in Soul on Ice, wherein the Canopy Skating Rink is transformed into a dance floor on ice and DJs Hunnicut & Co-op will spin your favourite tunes while you strap on the blades and spin on the ice.

And Saturday from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. is your last chance to be dazzled by Manitoba's largest drive-thru light show, Canad Inns Winter Wonderland, at Red River Exhibition Park. It features more than one million twinkling lights in more than 25 themed areas. Family vehicle tickets are $10 at Mac's.

So don't lose hope, Winnipeg, because warmer weather is coming. Give me a call when it gets here, because I'll be hiding in the basement with the mice. Happy New Year! Squeak!

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 4, 2014 A14

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