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Brrrrr-utal! Spring temperatures likely weeks away





Wherefore art thou spring?

Winnipeggers waking up to a balmy -18 C with windchill that felt like -27 C may not have waxed so poetic about the frosty scenario Monday. (And we wouldn’t blame you for favouring a few choice words over limericks or verses when looking at the forecast for the next seven days.)

This week, Environment Canada predicts mostly sunny skies with bitter winds and chilly nights dipping as low as -17 C tonight. The highest temperatures are forecast for the weekend: -1 C Saturday and Sunday, with a 60 per cent chance of flurries by week’s end.

Rob Paola, a recently retired Environment Canada meteorologist who lives in Winnipeg, said this is the coldest start to April the city has experienced since 2014. On April 2, 2017, the high was 12 C.

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Wherefore art thou spring?

Winnipeggers waking up to a balmy -18 C with windchill that felt like -27 C may not have waxed so poetic about the frosty scenario Monday. (And we wouldn’t blame you for favouring a few choice words over limericks or verses when looking at the forecast for the next seven days.)

This week, Environment Canada predicts mostly sunny skies with bitter winds and chilly nights dipping as low as -17 C tonight. The highest temperatures are forecast for the weekend: -1 C Saturday and Sunday, with a 60 per cent chance of flurries by week’s end.

Rob Paola, a recently retired Environment Canada meteorologist who lives in Winnipeg, said this is the coldest start to April the city has experienced since 2014. On April 2, 2017, the high was 12 C.

"It is below normal, but we’ve had colder starts to April in other years," he said from his Charleswood home. "People remember spring arriving a little bit earlier these past few years, so they’re getting a little bit impatient this year."

By April 8, 2017, Winnipeg was already nearing 20 C, Paola said. He maintains his own records on temperatures and snowfall data now that he’s retired (and also tweets local weather updates under the handle @RobsObs).

Paola pointed out the snowpack —meaning how much snow is still left on the ground — is still relatively high in some areas, including his own yard.

"It’s variable across the city. Some areas have lost their snow pretty much, but a lot of the city still has snowpack remaining from the winter. I’ve got about 15 centimetres," he said. "Basically that’s the deepest snow cover for this date since 2014. We had already lost our snow cover last year by late March and by mid-March in 2015 and 2016."

Environment Canada’s senior climatologist says he’s surprised how long winter is lasting on the Prairies and warns cold temperatures could persist through the end of April, pinning the blame on a polar vortex.

"At this time of the year, it’s often back and forth, up and coming, very yo-yoish kind of weather, where you’re getting winter trying to hold on and summer wants to get a foothold," David Phillips said Monday.

JESSICA BOTELHO-URBANSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"And yet the war is being won by winter," Phillips said. "Old Man Winter is clearly the bully in this particular situation and has got a grip on the entire West and is not letting go."

Where the snow has melted in Winnipeg, another surefire sign of spring has cropped up in its place: garbage.

Tom Ethans, executive director of Take Pride Winnipeg, has already started making the rounds by car to assess which neighbourhoods are messiest. He said commercial areas are usually the worst hit and Polo Park, the southern and northern perimeter areas take the top spots for trash.

On a Monday stroll around Omand’s Creek, St. Matthews Avenue and St. James Street, Ethans spotted hours’ worth of clean-up to be done.

Plastic bags, bottles, fast-food containers, bubble wrap, cardboard boxes, tattered clothes, a lonely sock and old books were just a few of the grimy items lingering, some of them still frozen to the ground.

"As soon as the snow is gone, we get to see areas like this where litter accumulates and it looks really bad. It makes the city look bad," Ethans said. "It’s horrendous."

Take Pride Winnipeg grades streets on an index of one to four, depending on how bad their trash situation is. Level one means no garbage is around, while a four means there’s hours of clean-up work to be done, as is the case in Polo Park.

"Unfortunately, where people see litter, other people throw stuff. Some of the stuff I see here has been thrown from cars or just dropped by people as they’re walking by," Ethans said, noting areas dense in drivers tend to be layered in litter.

"We’re going to get some more kids out here in the spring, as soon as it warms up a little, to go out and clean this up," he said, pointing to the St. James and St. Matthews intersection. "But we need everybody to work together."

Ethans expects community clean-ups to get into full force by mid-April. Last year, about 20,000 bags of garbage were picked up between April and the fall, he said.

— with files from The Canadian Press

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu


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