Spring's very cool and sometimes damp weather has led to concerns about whether seeding operations can get rolling at a reasonable pace. During the recent week we saw continued cool, wet weather at times, but there seems to be some changes beginning to take place.
High latitude blocking is still there, but is starting to weaken and shift enough so the Canadian Prairies will see a more favorable pattern for seeding and outdoor work. Rising temperatures and more sunshine will help soil temperatures increase. Many areas are still reporting soil temperatures quite chilly as a result of the winter's deep frost and the spring's cold weather. Rising soil temperatures should be noted during the coming few weeks as the long days combine with the sunnier weather forecast.
Soil moisture conditions are adequate to surplus in most areas of the Prairies, no surprise after a wet April and early May. Some fields are still too wet to work, but should dry enough soon to allow fieldwork and seeding operations to begin. Some of the wetter fields lie across central and eastern Saskatchewan to southern Manitoba where wet, cool conditions have been the most pronounced during recent weeks.
The weakening of the high latitude blocking means that we should start to see a northward shift with the position of the main polar jet stream during the next couple of weeks. During the spring to date, a combination of cool high pressure across Western Canada and an active storm track along the U.S./Canadian border led to our weather woes.
The northward shift of the jet stream position will also shift the main storm track northward hopefully to a track mostly to the north of the Prairies during the coming few weeks. This shift should allow for much milder weather and more of a showery nature to any wet weather events.
This potentially is a much improved weather regime for getting crops seeded and to allow for emergence as we move through late spring into early summer. The shift of the weather pattern is very timely: all three Prairie Provinces are now in the critical time to get crops seeded. As of late last week, Saskatchewan reported seeding 2% from normal for this time of year, so a return of good weather should keep farmers close to a normal seeding schedule.
Computer model projections for June paint a mostly favorable pattern for Western Canada. Near-to- above-normal temperatures are expected with the warmest readings expected for Alberta, while rainfall is expected to range from a little wetter than normal west to a little drier than normal east.
Doug Webster can be reached at email@example.com
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