03/19/2012 01:57 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT

First Day Of Spring: Weather Records Fall On Winter's Wacky Last Day (PHOTOS)

A little weather March madness was unleashed on the last day of winter, with golfers breaking out their clubs in Winnipeg and people pulling out their shovels in Vancouver.

The winter that never really was on the Prairies was replaced by the summer that almost is with record temperatures from Saskatchewan all the way through to Atlantic Canada. Winnipeg, renowned for its winters that never end, was basking in temperatures in the 20s.

While Central Canada baked, the City of Vancouver had to send out snow plows to deal with a rare snow storm. It was even worse along the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary, where forecasters expected some areas to get as much as 50 centimetres of snow.

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"I'm just shaking my head over what we're seeing, from winter storm warnings in Alberta to an overheated Central and Eastern Canada and snow in Vancouver," Environment Canada climatologist Dave Phillips said Monday.

"It really has been weird, wild and wacky."

Conditions were so severe in eastern Alberta that police closed the Trans-Canada Highway in both directions from Saskatchewan to Brooks, Alta.

"It's pretty bad," said RCMP Cpl. Rob King. "There's zero visibility and that wet, heavy snow that packed on the highway right away."

"March is always unpredictable, but this year has actually been very good weather throughout most of Saskatchewan. Earlier this week it was T-shirt weather."

On Monday, they were wearing T-shirts in Manitoba. A number of golf courses opened in Winnipeg over the weekend and business was good.

"Oh my gosh. It's unbelievable. Every time people come in it's the biggest smile on their faces," said Lindsay Lachance, the clubhouse manager at Fantasy Lake Golf Course, just east of Winnipeg.

"Pretty much the entire conversation goes, "Hi how are you?' The reply? 'I'm golfing in March. How do you think I'm doing?'"

Temperature records were being broken throughout southern Ontario, including in the Greater Toronto area, where it's been the warmest March on record so far.

Phillips said it's one thing that records are being broken, but in these cases they are being shattered.

"It's the duration of it, it's the intensity of it and the fact that it is covering so much of the country makes it really a March heat wave that is unprecedented. It's just breaking and smashing records all over the place."


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This winter has been the third warmest since Environment Canada started keeping track 65 years ago and the second driest.

"From the first day of spring the kind of temperatures we're seeing are more normal for the first day of summer. That's three months from now," Phillips said. "I can't impress upon you how spectacular this kind of mild spell has been.

"This one has been like winter missing in action. This heat is like putting Canada, from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia, under the sky dome. It's like a big dome that's right over top of us. It's like a greenhouse and it kept the cold air away. It's just getting warmer and warmer and warmer."

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