Central Alberta weather: Changeable could be the norm this winter

December was a rollercoaster of high and low temperatures

December weather has yo-yoed between too cold, or unusually warm — setting the pattern for what could be the rest of the winter.

Environment Canada meteorologist Brian Proctor said instability seems to be the only constant. “The very changeable pattern is not typical.”

The month began with a “remarkable” long cold spell that lasted from Dec. 5 to 17. Except for its uninterrupted duration, this period seemed to recall the cold Decembers of yore, said Proctor. “It was a return to what we historically had — more normal-like conditions,” with cars getting plugged in overnight, and people dressing in layers.

The thermometer at Red Deer Airport dropped all the way down to -30.3 C on Dec. 17, the coldest night of the month.

But then, only 48 hours later on Dec. 19, Red Deer area residents experienced a high of 2.4 C — the December high.

This see-sawing effect happened again when temperatures dipped around Christmas, then rose again to just below zero on Tuesday.

Proctor suggested Red Deerians should get some outdoor skating and tobogganing in while they can, since he predicts thermometers will take yet another plunge towards the end of the first week of January, when the unstable upper flow pattern brings more Arctic air to the region.

“There will be downward trend towards the middle or end of next week,” bringing more frigid highs in the -20 C range.

The average December temperature, as of Thursday, was -14.3 C, said Proctor — considerably colder than the average -11 C for the month.

As for precipitation, the dump of snow we received on Dec. 23 helped push the month’s total to 22 mm, which is more than the December average of 16.9 mm.

Proctor believes all the weather peaks and valleys we’ve seen will likely be the trend for the rest of the winter. “The cold interspersed with the warm is really indicative, but we’re trending more towards cool than warm.”

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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