Winnipeg swings from historic drought last year to wettest year on record in 2022

Historic drought devastated Manitoba’s agricultural and farming sectors last year only for the pendulum to swing strongly in the other, wetter direction this year in Winnipeg.

As of Monday morning, the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport weather station had recorded over 739 millimetres of precipitation in the city, “making this the wettest year for precipitation totals,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Natalie Hasell.

The 33.3 mm of rain that fell early Monday morning pushed totals into record territory, she said.

The previous record set in 1962 was 723 mm, and the last time the city came close to that mark was in 2010 when 721 mm was recorded, said Hasell.

CBC Manitoba meteorologist John Sauder said it was clear the record was within reach weeks ago, even as October — prior to Monday — was relatively mild in terms of moisture. The 33.3 mm that fell Monday morning is more than twice as much precipitation as the province received all month before then.

Total precipitation is a reflection of all rain and snowfall amounts, so the record is partly a reflection of large amounts of snow early this year and a soppy spring. That followed a year of historic drought through the Prairies last year.

Those two opposites happening in the span of a year or so can be linked to climate change, said Sauder, who noted it’s difficult at times to link weather to broader climate trends.

“Climate is something we study over a longer period of time, but what we’re noticing now is storms are more severe, weather events are more severe,” he said. “Things like drought, and then the wettest year on record … we’re going to start to see more of the extremes.”

With two months left in 2022, the record will only grow from here.

“This is now a record wettest year, but this may go down as a record that stands for a really long time,” said Sauder.

Hasell said Environment Canada forecasts suggest over the next month a number parts of Manitoba can expect higher than normal precipitation amounts. 

“I would take advantage of the weather we see on Friday and the weekend to get ready for the next season,” she said.

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