The weather forecast for the Canadian Prairies is beginning to take on a little more of an optimistic route as March rolls on into early April. The most recent surge of very cold weather for most areas should fade as we move into next week and precipitation prospects are on the light side of normal for most areas.
Cold air continues to be made across Canada as of late March, but one important factor will begin to affect the process that creates cold weather as we move deeper into spring. That factor is the sun. The sun is getting higher in the sky and stronger each day and will eat away at the arctic air. Snow cover will continue to recede northward and allow the increasing area of bare ground to absorb the solar heat.
The most recent snow cover charts for Western Canada continue to show some bare ground from southern Saskatchewan to southern Alberta with snow depths diminishing elsewhere from last week. Only central and northern Manitoba and northeast Saskatchewan have more snow cover than normal for this time of the year.
The snow cover picture is quite different from one year ago when snow was still very deep and the forecast was for more snow. This time around we see a drier weather pattern and a temperature pattern that should allow for more reasonable readings during the next few weeks.
This outlook should allow for a more normal transition into spring fieldwork for farmers during the next few weeks, but we all know that a bump or two in the road should be expected along the way. A mid-April snowstorm and a burst of cold weather is not unheard of across this part of the world and can't be ruled out.
The expected weather pattern during the next 10 days will see a mostly split jet stream flow pattern across North America. The polar vortex across eastern Canada will weaken some and ease to northeastern Canada while the main polar jet stream shifts into a mostly west to east fashion across southern Canada. An increasingly active southern jet stream will cross the U.S. and should keep most of any significant precipitation makers to the south of the Prairies for now.
Milder weather will start to take over across Western Canada next week as jet stream flow becomes more westerly allowing for some downslope winds from the Rockies. This improvement in the temperature department will allow the existing snow cover to slowly meltdown and should prevent any serious flooding threats through at least early to mid-April.
Milder weather and decreasing snow cover without lots of forthcoming precipitation should allow for some early fieldwork in some areas within the next few weeks, quite a bit earlier than last year. The only fly in the ointment that could flare up down the road is if it remains on the dry side of normal. We will need some moisture at times to maintain reasonable soil moisture conditions for spring planting later on and we may need to keep an eye on this as the weeks move along.
The computer-generated monthly outlook for April that is created daily shows some change since last weeks' blog. Temperature forecasts are now indicating milder-than-normal weather readings for the western Prairies with only Manitoba on the cool side of normal next month. Precipitation forecasts have trended to the drier side of normal after last week's outlook of a little more moisture than normal for most.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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