Frigid temperatures have plagued Brandon this winter, and February has been particularly frostier than usual.
According to Environment Canada, we can expect more of the same for at least a few more weeks.
“I don’t think we’re going to be back to normal temperatures until the second week of March,” said Natalie Hasell, warning-preparedness meteorologist. “Overall the month has been colder than normal ... Chances are things aren’t going to change all that much.”
It looks like Saturday will be especially brisk — Environment Canada’s forecast is -40 C, and that’s without the wind chill.
“It starts to recuperate a little bit on Sunday, we’re looking at -20 C, still quite cold but better,” she said. “Back to colder than normal, but manageable.”
From Feb. 1 to Feb. 25, Brandon’s average temperature was -20.3 C. Using climate normals from 1971-2000, February usually has a daily average of -13.8 C.
“You can pretty easily say that we’re six degrees and a bit colder than we should be,” she said.
While the bitter winter is likely affecting the moods of many Brandonites, it’s also having an impact on things below the surface.
Ian Broome, the city’s director of public works, told the Brandon Sun this week that frost in some areas is down nearly six feet, which is very deep compared to normal. As a result, the city has been busy with water main breaks the past few weeks.
Some Brandon residents have been asked to run a small stream of water to prevent their water services from freezing. This winter, 18 locations have experienced frozen water services and have been thawed by the city’s Meter Shop staff.
Only residents who have been notified and experienced a freezing water service in the past are asked to run their water. Anyone who is asked to run water is given a credit on their water bill for the extra water. Earlier this month, staff were extremely busy, responding to nine different locations with frozen water services.
This program began in 2004 with approximately 400 properties on the list for freezing services. As of 2013, the Meter Shop has approximately 100 properties left on the list.
Meanwhile, trees may be negatively impacted if the cold temperatures continue into the spring.
“If we get that condition continuing into the spring, then some of our apple trees and fruit trees can leaf out and the roots are still frozen, and so they can’t restore the water balance,” said Bill Paton, professor and chair of Brandon University’s biology department. “If it does continue into late April and early May, then that’s when the fruit trees … anything that leafs out, may have some problems.”
Paton said the native species are adapted to dealing with these winter conditions.
“They produce their own anti-freeze and can survive very well,” he said. “Horticultural materials that we have, have been selectioned because they can survive the rough conditions.”
If the weather goes back to normal through April and May, the frost will thaw and there won’t be any concern, Paton said. “The bigger root trees have much deeper roots so they’re down in the water table anyway, so the elms and those kind of things won’t have a problem,” Paton said.