November 19, 2019

Winnipeg
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Visual Briefing

How bad was the winter of 2019?

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/3/2019 (243 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Congratulations, Winnipeg, you made it. Kick off those Sorels, stash the shovels and burn that parka.

Soon, the winter of 2018-19 will be but a distant memory — unless your northern survival instincts kick in and you've already completely forgotten about it.

Before we say bon voyage to another season, we want to know one thing:

How bad was it, really?

Snow problem

It was a banner year for snow and we got pummeled in February, but we've been through worse in recent memory.

 

Recorded snow depths in 2013 and 2014 nearly hit 60 cm, whereas this year we barely hit 40 cm. Those previous years were both harrowing winters for the city.

Graphing snow depth over time shows how much we got compared to other years, and also how quickly it melts. A fast, late melt could spark flood concerns. 

 

Snow depth in Winnipeg

How fast the snow came...and how long it took to leave

2007-08

2008-09

60 cm

Major flood year

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

2009-10

2010-11

60 cm

Major flood year

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

2011-12

2012-13

60 cm

Just a cold,

snowy, no-good winter

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

2014-15

2013-14

60 cm

City’s frozen

pipe crisis

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

2015-16

2016-17

60 cm

0

May

Oct.

Oct.

May

2017-18

2018-2019

60 cm

Last day

of winter

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

Source: Environment Canada

Snow depth in Winnipeg

How fast the snow came...and how long it took to leave

2007-08

2009-10

2008-09

60 cm

Major flood year

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

2012-13

2011-12

2010-11

60 cm

Major flood year

Just a cold,

snowy, no-good winter

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

2015-16

2013-14

2014-15

60 cm

City’s frozen

pipe crisis

0

May

Oct.

May

Oct.

Oct.

May

2017-18

2018-2019

60 cm

Last day

of winter

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

Source: Environment Canada

Snow depth in Winnipeg

How fast the snow came...and how long it took to leave

2007-08

2010-11

2008-09

2009-10

2011-12

60 cm

Major flood year

Major flood year

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

2016-17

2015-16

2014-15

2013-14

2012-13

60 cm

Just a cold, snowy, no-good winter

City’s frozen

pipe crisis

0

May

Oct.

May

Oct.

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

2017-18

2018-2019

60 cm

Last day

of winter

0

Oct.

May

Oct.

May

Source: Environment Canada

Cold stretches

Remember that day in January when we almost hit -40 C? That was at the end of the first of two vicious cold snaps that each lasted eight days.

 

We're defining a cold snap as several consecutive days with highs lower than -15 C.

Because being Canadian is a competition, we want to know how we stacked up compared to other Prairie cities for longest cold spell. Winnipeg got some reprieve at the beginning of February, but Edmonton wasn't so lucky.

 

 

Taxing year on city's pipes

During Winnipeg's time at the bottom of the thermometer, the city said it saw a single-day record for the number of calls for help from residents dealing with frozen water pipes: 281 people called on Jan. 30. Normally the city receives about 150 calls per month.

In all, city crews were dispatched to just over 1,000 calls this year, but that figure pales in comparison to the frozen pipe crisis of 2014, when frost reached depths not seen in almost a century and the cold weather stretched well into spring.

 

 

Trouble to the south

Yes, we got a lot of snow this year, but the Midwest United States took a beating this winter, including a late-winter blizzard so powerful it changed this province's flood outlook.

This snow depth map clearly shows the snowhole that is the southern Red River Valley.

All that snowmelt has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is Manitoba, sometimes called the "drain" of North America.

 

Snow depth (cm)

March 19, 2019

Trace

50-76

>380

Less snow

More snow

Regina

Winnipeg

Minot

Grand Forks

Fargo

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Snow depth (cm)

March 19, 2019

Trace

50-76

>380

Less snow

More snow

Regina

Winnipeg

Minot

Grand Forks

Fargo

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Snow depth (cm)

March 19, 2019

Trace

20-30

50-76

127-190

>380

Less snow

More snow

Regina

Winnipeg

Minot

Grand Forks

Fargo

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Flood prep started

Your parka might be long gone, but you may need to grab some hip waders. Provincial officials in Manitoba now forecast a flood "of a magnitude higher than in 2009" if we see normal weather conditions this spring.

The city has started its annual flood preparations and sandbags are on the ready.

 

We also have a live graphic, updated daily with data from the City of Winnipeg.

 

 

 

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