March tested our resolve

A March that started out kind, quickly turned fierce as temperatures dipped well below average in Central Alberta.

A March that started out kind, quickly turned fierce as temperatures dipped well below average in Central Alberta.

Though the average high for the month of March is -4.1 C, Red Deer’s 2013 March dipped down to -8.5 C, said David Phillips, Environment Canada senior climatologist.

“March and April, we get so testy as Canadians,” said Phillips. “We want winter to be over, we’ve endured long winter, you’ve had snow since before Halloween and every time you look out you’re reminded of the fact of what season you’re in.”

The cold snaps of March run counter to the milder February with less snow than normal Red Deer experienced.

“One thing I rarely ever see is when March is colder than February,” said Phillips. “In March the sun is up, you’re getting some of that warm air coming. It really was a set back. It was almost two full degrees colder than February.”

Red Deer received snow falls on 11 days in March and most were dustings. The coldest day of the month was March 23, when the mercury dipped to -25.6 C, and throughout the month there were only seven days above freezing.

During the month there was a period where multiple Alberta Clippers brought cold air through the region on a continual basis.

“What you do get is that vacuum with some arctic air,” said Phillips. “Cold air rushes in behind it and the winds pick up, so there is a lot of blowing and drifting.

“There can be a lot of misery in an Alberta Clipper, even though it is not a Paul Bunyan snowfall.”

Even compared to March 2012, this years has been considerably rougher. Just a year ago the average temperature for March was -2.1 C.

“A little bit more snow last year, but it had pretty well disappeared by the end of the month,” said Phillips.

But things are looking up in Red Deer as there won’t be much new snow and with warmer days ahead a lot more subtraction

“It has been fiercely lion like for most of the entire month,” said Phillips. “There was a touch of lambness at the beginning, but then the rest happened.

“There is some good news coming. Normal highs and lows should be +6 C and -6 C and what we’re going to see is something normal. Which you haven’t had.”

While March was more miserable than normal, Phillips said April should be warmer than normal.

“We’re going to see a warm up,” said Phillips. “It’s not going to be a rush, you’re not going to go from slush to sweat, it’s going to be a slow move there. We think the models are suggesting, by the end of April, it will have been warmer than normal.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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