Forecast calls for ups and downs

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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It wouldn’t be winter in Saskatchewan without unpredictability.

Sunday and Monday were welcome breaks from last week’s deep freeze, but John Paul Cragg, warning preparedness meteoroligst with Environment Canada, said the warmth won’t last long.

“Tuesday and Wednesday for Moose Jaw are looking nice,” Cragg said. “And then temperatures plummet for Thursday.”

While the middle of this week will be a nice reminder of what it feels like to be able to feel your fingers and toes, Cragg said the model data for the weekend isn’t too trustworthy.

“We’re up and down all over the place. There’s a frontal boundary that’s lined up across the province, through Alberta and down through Winnipeg and running from the northwest to the southeast through Saskatchewan,” Cragg said.

“Along that boundary there’s quite a strong change of temperatures, so what we’re seeing on Wednesday is the potential of zero degrees for Moose Jaw, whereas, if you look at Prince Albert -15 C is the daytime high.”

Cragg said conditions get like this in the winter, even if it seems bizarre that the difference of 365 kilometres means a 15-degrees difference in temperature.

 “You still have warm air coming up from the States,” Cragg said. “But the Arctic is producing really cold air and when the two comer together, you get these strong gradients and a little move in that gradient can mean a huge difference in temperatures.”

He said if that particular gradient came down a little further south on Wednesday, it would be Moose Jaw with a high of -15 C instead of P.A.

“In this time of year, there can be quite a bit of fluctuation,” Cragg said.

As for the weekend, and the so-called “fuzzier” models, he said the temperatures look to be around normal with supposed highs of -6 C with lows of -17 C.

But there’s a lot of variability this weekend.

“What we see now, there’s a gradient set up across the province, it looks like that gradient will be moving back and forth for the next little while,” Cragg said.

Over the longer term, like looking at the forecast for the weekend, it’s tough for meteorologists to predict where that gradient will be.

“The models are getting better, but once you start getting to five or seven days, the models can start to break down and show less consistency,” Cragg said.

Organizations: Environment Canada, Prince Albert

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Alberta, Winnipeg Saskatchewan Arctic

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