For a second season in a row farmers are likely to get a late start to field work and planting as winter doesn't seem to want to leave town. Continued blocking across Alaska and northwest Canada are allowing late season chill to develop across the still snow covered north. Some of this cold weather will continue to have an impact on the Prairie region delaying the departure of snow cover for eastern and northeastern areas.
A well established snow cover remains for portions of far northern Alberta to northeastern Saskatchewan and for most of Manitoba as of mid April while much of the remainder of the region is now snow free or only is seeing a thin cover from recent snows. The problem is that a cold weather pattern remains in place and is not allowing the winter snow cover to melt very fast. The good news is that flooding isn't imminent for eastern areas but any spring field work potential will be delayed.
This could be a season where eastern areas have a rather late start while areas from southwest Saskatchewan to Alberta fare better in getting the growing season going. Snow and cold have been nearly never-ending across the eastern and northeastern Prairies for many months now while the west and southwest have seen episodes when milder weather have occurred. Snowfall has also been lower for the west.
The trend during the past week has been toward a more pessimistic outlook during the next few weeks as the blocking pattern looks like it may hang on for a while longer generating more chilly temperatures. We also are seeing signs that an increase in storminess later next week could translate into a late season snow event for at least the central and eastern Prairies and could end up encompassing most all areas.
The longer range outlooks for May continue to show a more optimistic theme with near normal precipitation and mostly above normal temperatures forecast for the Prairies but a couple of weeks ago the outlook for the second half of April was looking pretty good as well. This trend lowers the confidence that we will actually move into a nice weather pattern to get the growing season started within a reasonable time frame.
We can always hope that everything will work out like last year when a very late start to the seeding and growing season was followed by a very nice crop. Can we be that lucky 2 years in a row? Only time will tell, but in the near term we should prepare for more delays to springs' start, especially across eastern areas.
Doug Webster can be reached at email@example.com
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