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Leap Day ruins Calgary's snow free February

Michael Carter

Monday, February 29, 2016, 11:20 AM -

As of Sunday, Calgary hadn't reported any measurable snow in the month of February, but a quirk in the calendar (Leap Day) put an end to its snow-free month.

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One centimetre of snow was reported early Monday morning, spoiling the potential record the city would have seen for one of the only two completely snow-free February's ever measured.

Residents of the southern Prairies have noticed a distinct lack of wintry precipitation to go with the periods of unseasonably mild temperatures. As the snow cover map shows, many areas which can reliably expect a wintry landscape this time of year are currently seeing only bare ground.

If you’re wondering, yes, this is a rare occurrence, happening only once before – in 1999 – since records began in 1885. Three other years: 1977, 1892, and 1894, Calgary recorded less than 1 centimetre for the month. This is well below the city’s average February monthly snowfall of 14.5cm. Several other cities in the southern Prairies have seen a similar lack of snow this year, for example Regina with only 3.7 cm measured.

As this map of temperature anomalies shows, the lack of snow has been driven by unseasonably warm temperatures for the past 30 days, with many areas over 5°C warmer than average for the period.

Temperatures across the Prairies on Friday certainly fit with snow-less picture, with numerous record highs broken. Gusty southwest winds across southern Alberta pushed Calgary to 16oC and Lethbridge to 17oC, both within 2oC of their respective records for the day.

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