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So far, February has featured much colder than average temperatures across most of Canada. Dr. Doug Gillham takes a look at the future.

The cold truth about weather into March


Dr. Doug Gillham
Meteorologist, PhD

Tuesday, February 17, 2015, 3:57 PM - So far, February has featured much colder than average temperatures across most of Canada. Will this cold pattern continue for the rest of the month?  

We will take a look at the temperature pattern for the remainder of February, but first, here is a quick look back at the past two weeks to provide some context to the forecast. 

Colder so far

The various shades of blue, green, and violet on the map below highlight the regions that have been colder than average so far this February. 

As you can see, most of Canada has experienced temperatures that are three to 10 degrees below local average temperatures. 

Meanwhile, southern British Columbia has experienced spring-like temperatures and parts of Southern Alberta have seen very mild temperatures at times as well.

A taste of Siberia in Canada

So, where do we go from here? The map below shows a model forecast that fits well with our forecast for the next five days (through February 22). 

The shades of violet across southern Manitoba, northwestern Ontario and most of the eastern United States represent temperatures that are forecast to be 11 to 16 degrees colder than average as we continue to see reinforcing shots of arctic air arriving from Siberia. 

In many places this will result in record low temperatures.

The glimmer of warmth

Meanwhile, the mild pattern will continue for Western Canada. Alberta will experience much more variable conditions with being located between the mild air to the west and Arctic air to the east. 

Also, an active storm track through Atlantic Canada will bring brief periods of milder weather to the Avalon peninsula of Newfoundland each time a low pressure system tracks to the west of the region.  

The model forecast for the final five days of February (shown below) shows that the overall pattern will continue for the rest of the month, though the frigid temperatures do not look to be nearly as severe for the eastern Prairies and northwestern Ontario.  

No early spring

If this forecast holds, the temperature will remain below freezing in Toronto for the entire month of February which has only happened one other time on record (1978). There is the potential for this to be the coldest February on record in Toronto.  

Looking further ahead, there are no signs of an extended period of spring-like temperatures from the Prairies to Atlantic Canada, but the frigid pattern could relax somewhat over Eastern Canada during the first week of March.   

The other change that we could potentially see as we head towards and into early March is a shift west in the focus of the coldest temperatures which would bring a couple rounds of arctic air to Alberta. 

Some of the models even suggest that the colder weather could spread into British Columbia for several days, but confidence in that part of the forecast is not as high.

For those who experienced one of the coldest winters in recent memory last year, there is no question that this winter started out much milder than last year. 

However, it looks like the end of this winter will be reminiscent of last winter (or even colder) for parts of central and eastern Canada. 


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