Manitoba

67 hours above freezing a record January thaw for Winnipeg

It's a record-breaking January in Winnipeg — and not because of the cold.

Record-breaking thaw ended at 11 p.m. Sunday when the mercury dipped to –0.2 C

Sidewalks and roads in Winnipeg were puddle-filled due to January's warm stretch. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

It's a record-breaking January in Winnipeg — and not because of the cold.

A stretch of mild weather that significantly shrank the city's monstrous snowbanks and turned roads and sidewalks into a sodden mess also marked the longest January period of above 0 C temperatures since 1873.

And the only reason the record stops there is because no one knows what happened before that. Records only started being kept that year.

Winnipeg's official new record is 67 consecutive hours above freezing. It came to an end at 11 p.m. Sunday, when the mercury dipped to –0.2 C.

The old record of 44 hours was set in January 2002.

'Bring your fins and your snorkel' 

While the warm weather might be bringing some people outside, the record-breaking stretch has not been good for community centre ice rinks.

"Bring your fins and your snorkel. It's the only way you are going to be getting on [the rinks] right now," said Tracy Ball, the president of the Sinclair Park Community Centre. 

She said there's nearly three centimetres of water on top of the neighbourhood rinks. 

When it comes to creating nice ice, the price tag can be high. 

"We've sat there shaking our heads and going, 'OK, what do we do?' Budgets are tight, we get a little over $5,400 to flood the rink, which includes water and sewage charges from the city," she said. 

The community centre is almost at the end of those dollars, she said, and it would cost at least $1,000 more to get just one rink back to pristine condition. It's even more difficult to justify the extra spending when the warmth comes at the end of January.

"We've got maybe a good February if the weather starts to co-operate. We know that come mid-March we start to lose ice," she said. 

"Is it really worth it dollar-wise for what we are going to have to give up somewhere else?"

City crews are using a temporary cold mix asphalt material to fill in potholes during Winnipeg's wild extremes in weather. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The dramatic turn in weather also closed the city's popular Red River Mutual Trail and all skating rinks at The Forks. 

Mild weather and rain on Friday left puddles of water on the skating trail.

It's not just the ice-makers struggling with the drastic weather change — the City of Winnipeg is focusing efforts on filling potholes much earlier than usual.

Crews have been spending their mornings salting main arteries after frost and rain and their afternoons tackling surface failures with a temporary cold mix asphalt material. 

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