Saskatchewan is set to see some warmer weather in the coming week, but it’s not likely to stick around.
Both Regina and Saskatoon will see temperatures hover around zero until at least the weekend, with temperatures possibly rising to a weekly high of 3 C in the Bridge City and a balmy 6 C in the Queen City.
“Certainly for this week, it’s a little milder flow, so it’s above normal,” Sandy Massey, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said on Saturday.
She said the spike in temperatures in Saskatchewan is the result of a low pressure system that is tracking east across Alberta and a warm southerly flow over Saskatchewan that’s bringing milder temperatures for the days ahead.
“The warm air comes today and pretty much stays for the rest of the week,” she said.
Massey explained while the next few days will be relatively stable, it’s important to remember the month can be quite unpredictable as March is a time of year that can “go either way.”
However, while it’s impossible to predict what the weather will bring, many winter-based institutions are preparing to pack up for the upcoming spring.
Saturday was the last time people could weave their way through Echo Valley Provincial Park — on skates at least — as its winter activities including Skate the Park are soon set to stop, said Becky Hoehn, regional director for southeast Saskatchewan with the province’s Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport.
For her personally, she said it’s been heartwarming to see people get away from the stress of the pandemic by engaging the wonders of Saskatchewan’s outdoors.
“When they get out there, things seem a little bit more normal,” she said.
Parks waiting with open arms
Hoehn explained while Skate the Park has always been well received, other aspects were “ramped up” this year due to COVID-19 with the addition of snowshoeing, extra space for skating and more resources aimed at its cross-country skiing trails, offering people more options for outdoor adventure.
“Having these opportunities, especially close to a major urban centre like Regina, has really given families an opportunity to get outside, really enjoy their own province, their own backyard, all while making those connections,” she said.
She also explained that while the skating trails will be closed, people are still welcome to come and hike at Echo Valley, or any of Saskatchewan’s provincial parks, noting they really try to offer residents a chance to get outside 12 months a year.
“Pike Lake is open. Duck Mountain has their snow-maze that won’t melt in a day, Moose Mountain is just beautiful this time of year, they had a candlelight ski last night, so there’s stuff happening all across our province,” she said. “Parks are waiting with open arms.”
Those seeking a more city-centred experience were also affected as the temperature continued to climb as this week, officials explained while they had hoped to keep the massive rink that was Iceville at Mosaic Stadium around for a “few more weeks” those plans were paused due to the changing weather.
“Unfortunately, the shift from minus 35 to plus 10 that we experienced was just a little bit too much for Mosaic Stadium to handle and Mother Nature decided that it was time for Iceville to come to an end,” said Tim Reid, CEO and president of the Regina Exhibition Association Limited.
Speaking at a press conference announcing the end of Iceville earlier this week, he stressed that while the rink saw a shorter season in its inaugural year, it’ll be back again, as more than 13,000 skaters spent some time gliding around the home of the Roughriders and more than 200,000 people expressed interest.
“This was our first year, but it certainly won’t be our last,” he said, calling the $20,000 project the “best investment we’ve ever made” from an internal standpoint, as it both connected and helped the community during the pandemic.
Meewasin Valley Authority rink thaws
A Saskatoon winter staple in the Meewasin Valley Authority skating rink downtown also saw its season thaw quickly with the weather.
On Saturday officials said the outdoor rink, once voted the best in Canada by Reader’s Digest, is closed for the season. They say the rink was an important space for people to have as they dealt with the stress of the pandemic.
“Meewasin as an organization felt it was very important for us to continue to provide this as an opportunity for citizens to get outside, especially in the winter when we’re cooped up so much and so many things are closed,” said Amy Wall, manager of marketing and fund development at the MVA.
With warming temperatures and expected forecasts for early to mid-March, the Cameco Meewasin Rink <a href=”https://twitter.com/nutrien?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Nutrien</a> Plaza will be closed for the season as of March 5, 2021. ☀️<br><br>We want to thank everyone for supporting the Cameco Meewasin Rink <a href=”https://twitter.com/nutrien?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Nutrien</a> Plaza this season! ⛸<br><br>📷 Chris Kozak <a href=”https://t.co/dwA3734ANS”>pic.twitter.com/dwA3734ANS</a>
She says the rink is usually open for roughly 100 days a season and says when the rink closes, it is “completely weather dependent,” and usually takes place in the first couple weeks of March.
“As soon as the ice starts to melt and become uneven, it just gets unsafe, so we have to close for the season,” she said.
With numerous restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wall also wanted to offer a “huge thank you” to those who came out and skated safely.
“Everyone’s been super respectful and very accommodating to the rules,” she said.
The warm weather is likely a welcome break for those who are ready to feel the grip of Saskatchewan’s harsh winter loosening, but Massey, with Environment Canada, notes it’s still important for people to be prepared, as the transitional time between seasons can bring with it some less-than-ideal conditions.
“It goes below zero at night and the roads can freeze up,” she said. “So it’s always good to be prepared for any icy conditions.”
As far as to when the true spring weather will arrive in Saskatchewan she said “We’ll just have to wait and see.”