Is it really colder than Mars? The truth about Manitoba weather

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You’ve probably heard about Manitoba’s legendary winters. But that’s just a part of the story. Because of its location, being in the center of the North American continent with no mountain ranges nor oceans around it, the province experiences extreme climate. The lowest recorded temperature was -45°C (Feb. 1966) and the highest was 40.6°C in the summer of 1949.

Province with the “clearest skies”

Generally, Manitoba is a sunny province. According to Environment Canada, Manitoba is among the top Canadian cities with the most sunshine, enjoying an average of more than 2,000 hours of bright sun each year. However, note that clear skies do not mean warm weather. The strong winds going through a generally flat landscape can make winter temperatures feel even colder than actual temperatures. This is why you always need to be prepared for Manitoba’s climate.

Here are 5 essential tips to stay on top of Manitoba weather:

  1. Make it a habit to check the temp everyday before you leave the house

  2. This will determine what you need to wear or bring. Use these sites for daily reports: Environment Canada, the Weather Network, and Weather Underground. You will need to know, not only the exact temperature, but also the wind chill factor. This index indicates how cold the weather feels to an average person (this is why you may see “temperature is -10°C, but feels like -20°C”). Reports also include extreme weather warnings for you to take proper precaution. Read this article for tips on Winter Safety Indoors and Out from Canada.ca.

    Also, knowing about the weather will keep you in the loop as Manitobans (well, Canadians in general), like to talk about the weather. Apart from health, weather is a common topic in any conversation. If you want to know more about Canada’s obsession with the climate, watch this video from Watch Mojo.com:

  3. Know the seasons

  4. Be informed of the changing of the seasons so you can plan your activities accordingly:

    • Fall or Autumn is usually from September to October with average temperatures between -1°C to 9.8°C
    • Winter is from November to March with average temperatures between -22.8 °C and -12.7 °C.
    • Spring is in April, with average temperatures between -3.4°C to 8.9 °C
    • Summer is from May to August with average temperatures between 11.8°C to 24.8°C

    Also take note that Manitoba has three climatic regions:

    • Northern Manitoba (includes Thompson), falls in the subarctic climate zone. It has long extremely cold winters (as low as -40°C) and brief summers with little rain.
    • Southeastern Manitoba (includes Winnipeg), falls in the humid continental climate zone. This means it has severe winters, no dry season, and warm summers.
    • Southwestern Manitoba (includes Steinbach) – falls in the same zone as southern parts of Manitoba but is more prone to droughts.
  5. Dress for the weather

  6. Layering is a common practice in Manitoba. This means several garments worn on top of each other to keep you warm. And when the temperature rises later in the day, you shed them as needed. In winter, you will need:

    • thermal underwear
    • jacket
    • winter coat
    • toque or a hat
    • ear muffs
    • mittens/gloves
    • wool socks
    • boots
    • scarves

    Read How long can I stay outside in extremely cold weather? for more tips on dressing warmly for the season.

  7. Eat well and stay active

  8. Eat a good breakfast in the morning to start your day. This will keep your metabolism going and maintain body heat. Stay nourished throughout the day with in-season fruits and vegetables and stay active. Read How to stay active this winter for more tips.

  9. Beat the “Winter Blues”

  10. Long periods of cold weather and not a lot of sun can bring in the “winter blues”. This is when you lack energy and feel depressed, sometimes for no reason. It is caused by long periods of cold weather and lack of sunshine. If you notice that you’re experiencing the winter blues, do your best to stay active. Exercise to boost your energy and go outside, even just for a walk. Plan activities with your family and friends to cheer you up. If you’re starting to feel like you can’t engage in everyday activities anymore,
    talk to your doctor or health care provider. They can prescribe the best remedy to shake your blues away. To know more about the winter blues, read Do you feel SAD? Steps to beat the winter blues.

 
Article updated Feb. 2020.

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Community Resources

Read 5 winter dangers and how to manage them to be prepared for winter hazards.

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