The cold weary residents of Canada and the northern U.S. will have to bundle up for a while longer and possibly for a good while longer as the same old cold pattern that's plagued North America all winter again takes control. The brief mild spell of recent days will quickly become history during the next few days as a new batch of fresh arctic air slides southward from northwest and northern Canada.
A return of the ridge near the west coasts of the U.S. and Canada during the next few days will again extend northward to Alaska and the Yukon by next week. This blocks any moderating influence from the Pacific Ocean and allows a piece of the polar vortex to slide back south to Hudson Bay and even a bit south at times. This puts Canada into a big time cold air manufacturing pattern for next week and probably beyond for a while.
Even though we are in the later portion of winter, we can still see some severe cold and probably will for much of the Prairie region beginning this weekend through next week. As we have seen several times during the winter, there may be periods when Alberta sees some moderation, but for Saskatchewan and especially Manitoba the cold weather may again be pretty relentless into at least the first week of March.
The upper level ridge across Alaska will allow for a large surface high pressure area across northwest and Western Canada during the coming days allowing for clear skies and light winds. This is what brings about strong radiational cooling at night sending temperatures to very low levels over the widespread snow cover. Reinforcing bubbles of arctic high pressure can be expected to move southeastward through Western Canada every few days with a pattern like this and just ahead of the next high is when western areas may see some modest moderation.
Precipitation prospects are minimal with a pattern such as this with only a little light snow for the east slopes of the Rockies. Most other areas are likely to see dry weather for at least the next week or more. The west coast ridge will block any storm systems from moving in from the Pacific for the time being.
Longer range models are continuing to show March staying colder than normal for the Prairies. If the cold weather continues and spring is late to take hold, we could see a delayed start to field work operations. This is something to follow during the next few weeks with some chance we could see some kind of a repeat to last spring's late start to the planting season. As we know it all turned out pretty good last year thanks to a great summer growing season and late start to falls freezes.
Doug Webster can be reached at email@example.com
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