Why does Winnipeg get so cold

Why does Winnipeg get so cold?

Winnipeg, also known as “Winterpeg” for its cold winter months, often sees its temperatures drop dozens of degrees below freezing. But why does Winnipeg get so cold?

The reasons behind Winnipeg’s winter chills are its location and weather patterns. These factors come together in a way that gives the city pleasant summer months and freezing winter weather.

In this article, we delve into the reasons behind Winnipeg’s iconic winters and what makes this city’s weather so unique.

Why does Winnipeg get so cold?

Winnipeg’s location in central Canada and its proximity to the Arctic give it harsh winter weather. 

The city is surrounded by flat prairies and is far enough from large bodies of water, which keeps temperatures low.

Winnipeg also receives wind chill from the weather system known as the polar high.

The result of these factors working together is a consistent layer of snow every winter. 

In fact, it’s so dependable that 1939 has been the only recorded year in the past century when there was no snow on Christmas day.

Why does Winnipeg get so cold
Source: https://www.ventusky.com/?p=48.7;-91.1;3&l=temperature-2m&m=icon

How all of this is possible is the direct result of how heat moves around.

Winnipeg’s exact location is at the bottom of Red River Valley. 

Because cold air sinks and warm air rises, the air from the northwest eventually pools and settles around Winnipeg, which just so happens to be the lowest point it can find.

The lack of large bodies of water also makes it hard for inland regions to regulate their temperature. 

Oceans and lakes tend to hold more heat than land, which allows them to stay cool in the summer, and warm (at least compared to land) in the winter.

Without the effects of water, inland areas are more prone to extreme heat and cold. 

This is especially true in large land masses, such as the Canadian Prairies, where the land can heat up quickly during the day and cool down just as quickly at night.

But what about nearby Lake Winnipeg?

While the lake is a large body of water relatively close to the city, it is fairly shallow, which means it does not hold as much heat as deeper bodies of water could. 

It also freezes over in the winter months, trapping heat beneath the surface for aquatic life to survive.

What is the coldest recorded temperature in Winnipeg?

What is the coldest recorded temperature in Winnipeg
Source: climate.weather.gc.ca

The lowest temperature ever recorded in Winnipeg was -47.8°C (-54°F), on December 24, 1879. 

It should be noted however, that as cold as Winnipeg can get, this is considered an extreme low, far below its average winter temperature of about -18.0°C (-0.4°F).

Despite the extreme winters, Winnipeg has fairly warm summer months. The same factors that lower its temperature in the winter allow for pleasant weather in the summer upwards of 20°C (68°F).


Source: ID 12019 (https://pixabay.com/photos/winnipeg-canada-winter-snow-trees-105672/)

To sum things up: Winnipeg gets so cold in the winter because of a combination of its location and local weather.

As an inland city, Winnipeg gains and loses heat faster than coastal regions. However, its proximity to the Arctic Circle means that it is exposed to cold far more than it is to heat.

It is also the lowest point that winds coming in from the northwest can find, leading to cold air pooling and settling around it.