Winnipeg chilled by record cold April

The spring chill in Winnipeg is on its way to setting a record as the coldest April in the city's history, unless temperatures start shooting up in the next week.

Chilly April frustrates Winnipeg garden centres

CBC News: Winnipeg at 6:00

8 years ago
Winnipeg garden centres are struggling with this month's chilly weather, which is about to set a record for coldest April on record. 2:02

The spring chill in Winnipeg is on its way to setting a record as the coldest April in the city's history, unless temperatures start shooting up in the next week.

This is the latest in any April, since records began 141 years ago, that the temperature has not yet reached at least 5 C, according to Environment Canada.

Can it be? The forecast in Winnipeg is calling for double-digit temperatures by the weekend. (Environment Canada)

"We've had cold Arctic air streaming into Saskatchewan and Manitoba and then just sitting there for long periods of time," said Environment Canada meteorologist John Paul Cragg.

"And it doesn't help that there's still quite a bit of snow cover on the ground."

The average temperature for April, since records began being collected, is 4 C. So far this year it has been –4.5 C.

So it is well on its way to supplanting the coldest April on record, which was in 1950 with an average temperature of –1.6 C.

Whether this year's chill can linger long enough to set a new record "depends on how warm we get this weekend and into next week," said Cragg.

Environment Canada is calling for double-digit temperatures by the weekend, possibly as high as 13 C, which is actually the normal daytime high for this time of year.

But the miserable April weather will hold on at least for the next few days. The daytime high on Monday was forecasted to be 1 C, which is about the same mark expected on Wednesday.

Tuesday should be a bit warmer at 4 C, but rain showers or flurries are expected in the evening. Overnight lows  are expected to remain below freezing at least until the weekend.

Garden centres waiting for warmth

Greenhouses and nurseries in southern Manitoba are anxious for warm weather.

Most are packed to the rafters with plants but people aren't buying yet. And the outdoor spaces where the greenhouses normally put their hardier stock are still covered with snow.

Dave Hiebert with Lacoste Garden Centre said heating bills are going through the roof. So far, his fuel costs are up 15 per cent over last year.

"Typically, at this time of year our furnaces actually aren't even running that often," he said.

Other greenhouses CBC News spoke with say they're delaying deliveries of trees and shrubs because they have nowhere to put them.

"We can't take the product because the sales yard — or the area that we receive that into, all that outdoor stock — the snow hasn't melted yet," said Chad Labby of Shelmerdine Garden Centre.

"We might to have to delay shipments again another week. We've already delayed shipments for nursery stock by one week," he added, referring to trees, shrubs and evergreens.

Melita flood fight hampered

Meanwhile, the unusually frigid temperatures are hampering flood preparations in Melita, Man., where town officials are looking for volunteers to help with sandbagging efforts.

Melita emergency co-ordinator Bill Holden said crews want to start building dikes early, but they've been getting no help from the weather so far.

"We have a little trouble there because we had snow and rain here over the weekend, and then it got down to about –14 C again. So everything's frozen up," he said.

"So we're having a heck of a time sandbagging right now. We've got some different sand coming in."

Holden said he hopes the cold snap will break in the next few days, so volunteers can start building dikes soon.

"We are going to start on Wednesday, and the first ones to go up will be the Hesco barriers on Number 3 highway," Holden said.

"The aqua-dikes, you have to wait for it to stop freezing. So hopefully by the end of June, maybe we can do that," he added with a laugh.

People who want to help out in Melita are asked to call the town office at (204) 522-3413 or the local emergency co-ordination line at (204) 522-8591.