Winter limps away like an old, obstinate lion ... slowly and reluctantly

Winter limps away like an old, obstinate lion ... slowly and reluctantly

If you hoped that Edmonton had pried itself loose from winter's cold grip a little early this season, you were dead wrong.

The frigid facts are undeniable. Alberta's longest season isn't done with us yet.

"Maybe people were seduced into thinking that winter was over and it wouldn't come back," said David Phillips, a meteorologist with Environment Canada. "People thought they were going to write the obituary on winter-like weather. But we know different."

'You're not going to go from slush to sweat'

Edmontonians who had enjoyed hints of spring — melting snowbanks, clear skies, even a few blades of grass — had a rude awakening Saturday morning.

Bare roads and sidewalks were buried in more than 10 centimetres of the white stuff, temperatures plunged to –21 C, with biting wind gusts of up to 50 km/h.

The sudden onslaught came as no surprise to the seasoned season-watcher.

"Veterans of weather wars in Edmonton know, you don't put away the snow shovel just yet," Phillips said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"You don't put away the parka or the balaclava in moth balls and get out the muscle shirts and tank tops, even though nature has given you a little teaser."

'You better get used to it'

February was unseasonably warm and dry this year. The spell of balmy weather peaked on Feb. 15, when temperatures reached 15.4 C, breaking an Edmonton record 100 years old. On the same day, temperature records were broken in Banff, Calgary, Grande Prairie and High Level.

That was then. This is now.

Overnight lows this week are expected to hover at or below -20 C, with wind chills of up to -30 expected some mornings. 

Phillips said that spurt of warm weather a few weeks back was a "false spring." He expects March will be damp and colder than usual.

"We're seeing temperature highs that are remarkably cold for this time of year," he said. "These are not just one day wonders. And our models are suggesting, you better get used to it.

"You're not going to go from slush to sweat. Spring is going to arrive reluctantly in Edmonton and Alberta."