February was rough and March won't be drastically better, climatologist says

Calgary is emerging from a record cold and snowy month but the coming weeks won't be a big change.

'There were times when Calgary was colder than the North Pole,' according to David Phillips

February featured some of the lowest temperatures and highest snowfalls in years. March may be cooler than usual, Environment Canada warns. (CBC)

After an unusually cold February, March will be "an improvement only because the days are longer," a senior climatologist says.

This month has been the city's coldest February in 25 years and has had the most snow — 43.3 centimetres — since 1961, according to Environment Canada's David Phillips, who analyzed Calgary's historical weather data on Wednesday as February came to an end.

"There were times when Calgary was colder than the North Pole," Phillips told the Calgary Eyeopener. "It was really, yeah, the shortest month but it was long on weather."

David Phillips is a senior climatologist with Environment Canada. (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Normal snowfall for February is 15 cm — only a third of what the city received this year.

And it was "bone-chilling" cold with few breaks, Phillips said.

February had a daytime low of –18 C, when a normal February daytime low would be –11.4 C, his analysis found.

The overall average temperature hit –12 C, considerably chillier than the normal –5.4 C.

A few days this past week featured temperatures rise above freezing. Those slightly warmer and snow-free days meant this month fell just short of the coldest and snowiest ever, he said.

'Be patient'

March 2018 is expected to be more typical, temperature-wise, or slightly cooler, Phillips said.

"Things are going to look up but it's going to be slow. You're going to have to be patient," he said.

March is typically about four degrees warmer than February, with a few minutes of extra sunlight each day.

Snowy March

But it's also usually the snowiest month of the year for Calgary, typically amounting to about 40 per cent of the winter's snowfall.

"When it snows, it's heavier — but it also goes faster," Phillips said. "Don't feel as though the world's coming to an end."

More snow may sound dismal after 73 consecutive days of snow covered backyards, so he said, take comfort in March's longer days and look ahead to an expected warm summer.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.