Gods smile on Winnipeg with record-smashing high temperature

Sisters Anya and Miska bolted across a field of brown-green grass and melting snow, tongues flapping from their mouths as they crashed into others with a total disregard for physical distancing.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/12/2020 (781 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Sisters Anya and Miska bolted across a field of brown-green grass and melting snow, tongues flapping from their mouths as they crashed into others with a total disregard for physical distancing.

Of course, no one at the Charleswood Dog Park expected the two huskies to behave otherwise.

Their owner, Stephanie Harris, was out with the two dogs and her daughter Vayda, enjoying the weather on the warmest Dec. 8 on record since 1872, when the collection of weather data began. The mercury hit 6.6 C on Tuesday, beating the 5.6 C record set in 1939.

“I’m feeling good,” said Harris, as the two huskies ran around her legs, chased closely by Vayda as she laughed and tried to keep pace. “I’m surprised how warm it is,” said Harris. “So, take advantage while you can.”

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Stephanie Harris and her daughter Vayda take a walk with their dogs at the Charleswood Off Leash Dog Park on Tuesday.

The balmy day was “quite an atmospheric gift,” said David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada. By meteorological standards, he said, beating the 1939 mark by a full degree amounts to smashing the record.

“In my business, you break records by a tenth of a degree and you’re excited,” he said. “You literally clobbered the previous record on this day.”

On Dec. 8, 2019, the temperature hovered around -16 C and plummeted to – 25 C, with a moustache-frosting windchill of -30. Phillips said Winnipeggers should consider the recent mild weather a happy reprieve. He said people should get out and safely enjoy the next few days, which will be warmer than the normal temperature of – 9 C.

Particularly since late October, temperatures have been lower than normal in Winnipeg, so Phillips says there’s no need to feel guilty now.

“This is just nature paying you back for some misgivings and misdeeds there in October,” he said.

Tuesday’s 6.6 C high matches the average high for all of October in 2019.

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS People take to the outdoors while Winnipeg faces a warm December at Assiniboine Park.

At the dog park, people meandered the field as dogs whorled around them like churning eddies. There was plenty of room for dog owners to keep their distance from each other, but they often moved together in spaced-apart packs as they followed the sprinting canines.

Jessica Siwicki and her formidable German shepherd-husky-cross Charlie jumped at the chance to bask in the unseasonably warm weather.

“She will not go inside,” said Siwicki about Charlie. “This is her favourite weather.”

During the pandemic, as people are forced indoors, it’s especially nice to have good weather and open spaces, said Siwicki. “I was OK for the first six months or so, but it’s definitely starting to take a toll,” she said. “Thankfully, it’s nice during all this COVID stuff.”

Another dog owner, Dan Irwin, echoed that sentiment. “It’s huge for us to come out,” said Irwin, who was with his aptly named 10-month-old rescue Big Jake.

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Charlotte Pyrce enjoys a hot chocolate with her Grandmother at Assiniboine Park on Tuesday. More people are spending time outside as December continues to stay a bit warmer.

Others seized the Manitoba “tropical” day to spend quality time at Assiniboine Park. Debbie Johnson spent the day pulling her three-year-old granddaughter Charlotte on a red plastic sled over the scant snow. Then they sat waiting for food from the Park Cafe take-out window. Charlotte seemed happy to wait, as she tipped her cup with both hands to her mouth.

“I’ve got hot chocolate,” she bragged.

Phillips said one of the great advantages of a warm day such as Tuesday is that it breaks up the winter.

“Psychologically, that’s important,” he said. “When it comes down to it, you could say, ‘Well, at least it hasn’t been as long as it could have been.’ And that should be the rallying cry, for sure.”


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