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‘It’s been a weird one’: Warm weather stymies winter fun in Manitoba

Well, that didn’t last long.

After opening the popular Nestaweya River Trail only five days ago — the latest date the trail has ever been opened, due to a warmer-than-usual January — the unseasonable temperatures have shut it down again.

The Forks said Tuesday morning that all on-site skating surfaces, including the river trail and on-land skating trails, have been temporarily closed due to conditions.

When the river trail opened last week, around 600 metres of river ice was available to skate on.

The warm snap has led to the temporary closure of other popular winter activities around town, like the Duck Pond at Assiniboine Park, as well as the park’s toboggan hill.

Assiniboine Park’s Duck Pond is among the outdoor skating sites temporarily closed due to the weather. Submitted

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One Manitoban who has become well-known for embracing the cold and celebrating the outdoors says he remains hopeful temperatures begin to drop again, but there’s definitely a feeling of “something missing” so far this year.

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Chris Beauvilain, the creator of Frosty Face Manitoba, a social media account that collects photos of locals experiencing the outdoors in less-than-ideal temperatures, told 680 CJOB’s The Start that the winter activities are part of what makes Manitoba so unique.

“I really try not to get down about the weather because I have no control over it, but I am secretly hoping that we get some proper cold just to be able to enjoy the winter,” he said.

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“Normally people at this time of year are freaking out because it’s so cold, and now they’re freaking out because it’s so warm. It’s been a weird one.

“I’m getting a sense from a lot of people that there’s something missing this year. We still have a lot of winter left. We have to remember that normally we don’t get that really nice sort of spring weather change until May, so we have a couple of months.”

Beauvilain said although a lot of winter activities have been stymied by the warm spell, the less-than-ideal conditions have led to some picturesque scenery.

“The fog has been amazing, … the frost. There are definitely beautiful things to appreciate this year, but winter activities are lacking.”

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Click to play video: 'Winter so far in Manitoba'

Winter so far in Manitoba

While warm spells are common for a Winnipeg winter, an expert says this season could well become a record-breaker.

University of Manitoba assistant prof Alex Crawford told Global Winnipeg on Monday that the city was on track to beat — or at least come close to beating — the all-time fewest number of winter days below -20 C.

Crawford said that while above-zero days in January aren’t uncommon, and that a single cold snap could put the city back on track for a more typical frigid season, things are definitely trending in the direction of warmer Winnipeg winters going forward, thanks in part to the effects of climate change.

“We have data in Winnipeg that goes back to the 1870s,” he said. “It’s important to recognize that, yes, this is one of the warmest winters we’ve had. This is strange for us right now. But if you think about your grandkids, it won’t be stranger to them. This is going to be more common in the future.”

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Click to play video: 'Warm weather delays opening of Winnipeg’s iconic river trail, forcing adaptations in winter tourism'

Warm weather delays opening of Winnipeg’s iconic river trail, forcing adaptations in winter tourism

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