Effects of Lake Breezes On Weather – Manitoba (ELBOW-MB)

Study Area: Southern Interlake and its shores of Lakes Manitoba/Winnipeg

Submitted by: J. Hanesiak


Although most research on lake and sea breezes has taken place outside of Canada, lake breeze fronts (LBF) are known to be important factors for initiation of convective storms and can be associated with tornadic events in Canada. An LBF existed in close proximity to the Elie, MB F5 tornadic storm with unknown effects, if any. Lake breeze circulations primarily result from differential heating between water bodies and the land surface that can result in onshore flow at the surface that generates the LBF. The extent to which the LBF penetrates inland depends on various factors including the temperature gradient between the land and water, the background (synoptic-scale) boundary layer flow, the shape of the coastline and characteristics of the land surface. LBFs have been known to penetrate quite far inland, from a few km to as far as hundreds of km.

Project Description

There have been no detailed studies of lake breezes in Manitoba even though it is well known that LBFs appear on weather radar and can impact cloud and storm initiation in the region.

A pilot field project called ELBOW-MB (Effects of Lake Breezes On Weather – Manitoba) was conducted between July 5 – 26, 2013. The main objectives of ELBOW-MB are to:

  1. Add to the climatological database of Manitoba lake breezes (after Curry, 2012) by determining variations in lake breeze front (LBF) penetration distances, frequency of occurrence and speeds,
  2. Characterize LBF and lake breeze airmass thermal and dynamic attributes, 
  3. Examine the LBF impacts on convective cloud development in the region in relation to the background synoptic setting,
  4. Examine how well the operational Canadian models simulate Manitoba lake breezes and associated convection.
ELBOW-MB contributes to the broader knowledge of lake breezes globally as well as insights into local scale processes of lake breezes. The study also provides weather forecasters with new knowledge on these mesoscale phenomena and associated weather.

Curry, M., J. Hanesiak, S. Kehler, D. Sills and N. Taylor, 2017: Ground-based Observations of the Thermodynamic and dynamic properties of lake-breezes in southern Manitoba, Canada. Boundary Layer Meteorol., 163:143–159, 10.1007/s10546-016-0214-1.

Kehler, S., J. Hanesiak, M. Curry, D. Sills and N. Taylor, 2016: High Resolution Deterministic Prediction System (HRDPS) Simulations of Manitoba Lake Breezes, Atmos.-Ocean, 54, 93-107, DOI: 10.1080/07055900.2015.1137857.

Curry, M., J. Hanesiak and D. Sills, 2015: A radar-based investigation of lake breezes in southern Manitoba, Canada, Atmos-Ocean 53, 237-250, doi:10.1080/07055900.2014.1001317.

Curry, M., 2012: Lake effects in southern Manitoba, Honours Thesis, University of Manitoba, pp. 65. [Available from the Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba, 220 Sinnott Bldg. Fort Gary Campus, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3T 2N2]

Principal Investigator: Dr. John Hanesiak

U Manitoba: Dr. John Hanesiak, Michelle Curry, Kyle Ziolkowski, Scott Kehler, Rose Sengenberger


Environment Canada: Dr. David Sills (Cloud Physics and Severe Weather Research Division), Neil Taylor (Hydrometeorology and Arctic Lab), Robyn Dyck and Shannon Bestland (Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Centre)

Funding and/or Other Support:

NSERC, CFI, University of Manitoba, Environment Canada, Rainy Day Internet, Town of Winnipeg Beach, RM of Gimli


For more information contact:

Dr. John Hanesiak


Michelle Curry launching a weather balloon at Balaton Beach, Manitoba during field project. Credit: David Sills


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