A stalled low pressure area across the southern Canadian Prairies during the past several days has deposited excessive amounts of rainfall for some areas. This has resulted in significant flooding, soaked fields and potential of a diminished crop yield for some of the most affected areas.
Lethbridge, Alberta received a whopping 189.2 millimeters (7.45 inches) of rain since last Friday, not including yesterday's total. The monthly total of 230.0 mm (9.06 inches) is already 280% of the entire normal June total!
Why so much rain in such a short time? Our old friend high latitude blocking is mostly to blame and continues to bring episodes of undesirable conditions to North America and Canada at times. This time a slow-moving low pressure area moved in from the eastern Pacific and pulled northwestward a moisture-laden air mass from the central and Northern Plains of the U.S. up against the Canadian Rockies. The resulting upslope flow for several days in a row created a monsoon-like condition for southern Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan.
Dry weather has been difficult to come by for many areas of the Prairies this spring, with only the Peace River region of Alberta staying on the dry side of normal. Most other areas have been dealing with a surplus of rainfall resulting in surplus soil moisture conditions and even some flooded fields for some. Some fields have not been seeded for these reasons and may not be this season if the weather does not dry out soon. Reports from Manitoba indicate that up to 10% of field acreage may go unseeded if the weather does not cooperate soon with drier conditions.
Is there any hope that our soggy weather will end? There are signs that a drier pattern will take over across the Prairies during the next week to 10 days with most of our model projections pointing toward a developing ridge of modest proportions for next week. This should bring drier weather, but also should allow the cool pattern observed so far in June to warm to at least more seasonable levels.
Crops will be happy to see some sunshine and warmth to go along with drier conditions. The cool, wet conditions are likely taking a toll on early development of many crops for the region.
The prospects for the drier, warmer weather across the region may not have lasting power if some of our longer range model projections are correct. One of the U.S. models that forecast outward for 16 days brings back a rather wet pattern by the tail end of June and during the first few days of July. A second model that predicts July weather is saying that wetter and cooler-than-normal conditions may prevail for Saskatchewan and Manitoba with more seasonable conditions for Alberta.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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