Spring was extremely early in many ways this year, all thanks to a record warm March which put an abrupt end to an already tame winter. Bugs, trees, plants, the ice-breakup and the fire season all got a head start that was weeks earlier than normal.
The fire season had already begun by late March and early April. Ditches, fields and forests were tinder dry thanks to little snowfall in the winter, and warm and windy conditions in March. These dry conditions, for the most part, continued until late May. This was despite the fact we were actually seeing near to above normal rainfall. This was thanks to persistent low dewpoints and high winds which rapidly dried up any rainfall. These dry conditions prompted some municipalities to issue fire bans as early as the first week of April. Back-country travel restrictions in southeastern and eastern Manitoba, more burn bans and the cancelation of burning permits followed in May when the fire danger was pushed to extreme.
|Grass Fire in Winnipeg Apr 5, pic by CBC Manitoba|
By May 1, there had already been 50 fires reported across Manitoba. Some of these were grass fires within Winnipeg city limits, such as along Sturgeon Road on April 5 and in the Assiniboine Forest on April 26. Both were brought under control and there was no damage to property.
|Anola fire damage, by Rana Bokhari|
In mid May, two much larger fires were sparked in southeastern Manitoba; one in the RM of Stuartburn east/southeast of Vita and another in the RM of Piney. They both lasted about a week. They were very difficult to battle due to hot, windy and dry weather. In addition, winds were not only strong, but they were variable, changing direction often. On top of that, the fires were hard to access for ground crews, and were spread all over the place. The RM of Piney declared a state of emergency on the 14th, the same day that over a dozen people were evacuated in the small village of Badger. They remained evacuees for 4 days, finally able to return home on the 18th. In total, several thousands of hectares burned in the RM of Stuartburn, while a few tens of thousands were burned in the RM of Piney. The smoke plumes from these fires were large enough to be clearly visible on visible satellite and also visible as a blob of precipitation on doppler radar. This radar imagery indicated that the tops of these smoke plumes reached over 15,000 feet.
|Lake Winnipeg April 9, pic by Richard Romanow/CBC|
|Plants sprouting April 5. Pic by Amazis Louka, sent to TWN|
It terms of stats, it was the 2nd warmest Spring on record since 1872 with an average mean temperature of 6.8°C; that's 3.4°C above the 1981-2010 normal!
Top 5 warmest Springs since 1872 (mean temperature):April was just tied for 30th warmest and May tied for 52nd warmest. March, being the warmest on record, sealed the deal so to speak.
Snowfall was quite absent this Spring. After March 8, only a trace of snow fell. Only a trace of snow fell in April, putting this April among only 21 other Aprils since 1872 to not have any accumulating snowfall.
This post contains information, photos or videos from the following sources:
The Weather Network
Environment Canada Weatheroffice