A Senior Climatologist with Environment Canada says he thinks Manitoba Merv might know what he's talking about.
The Manitoba groundhog Tuesday predicted an early spring. David Phillips says he agrees.
"My sense is I wouldn't write the obituary on winterlike weather yet," notes Phillips. "But, it's almost as if there is a feeling that spring might be in the air and my sense is that that's the way it's going to unfold."
According to Phillips, the winter of 2015-16 is right now tracking to crack the top five for warmest winters in the approximately 75 years of record keeping for southern Manitoba. He saysDecember saw the average temperature about five degrees above normal and in January it was about two degrees warmer than usual. With the El Nino not as strong as it was earlier this winter, Phillips expects February might produce near normal temperatures. He points out, the average temperature in February is about 3 or 4 degrees warmer than it is in January.
Phillips says it really has been an abnormal winter. He says so far, there has been one day where the mercury has dipped to -30 degrees. In an average winter we would have had nine of those days by now. And though there haven't been a lot of days above freezing, Phillips says our daytime highs are often around -5 instead of -15.
As for snowfall, he says there has been a little more than normal this year. Phillips says typically by now we've had about 72 centimetres of snow. Parts of southern Manitoba have already seen 75 centimetres of the white stuff. Yet, Phillips says because there really isn't that much of a snow base, once the thaw starts, there won't be as much snow and ice to melt, meaning there could be a quick turnaround in the seasons.
Just because Phillips is forecasting an early spring, that doesn't mean winter is behind us. He notes there could still be some mean winter weather in store. However, he says days are getting longer, while the sun creeps higher in the sky.
As mentioned, the El Nino is not as strong as it was earlier this winter. Yet, Phillips says it is still a force.
"The water temperatures may not be quite as warm, but the air above it is responding in the same way, in a very predictable way," notes Phillips. "That's why we think that El Nino will continue to be a force through the rest of the winter and well into the spring, which generally means for us a milder and a drier than normal spring."
Phillips says if he could order the perfect winter, it would be one with normal conditions. He says the winter cold destroys varmints and other larvae that could pose a problem down the road.