Moisture Extremes to Persist on the Prairies — Drew Lerner's Western Spring Outlook

Soils in much of Alberta and parts of western Saskatchewan are very dry and needing rain as early seeding activity is getting underway. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be widespread relief on the way in the next few weeks.

“We are going to be looking for a balance across the majority of the prairies, and I don’t think we’re going to see it right away,” says Drew Lerner, senior ag meteorologist with World Weather Inc. in our conversation below. “Unfortunately we will continue to see some poorly distributed precipitation events. There will continue to be some areas that are too wet and cool in the east and too dry in the west.”

Dry areas near the U.S. border could see some moisture relief, but Lerner says he expects the drier-than-normal conditions to continue through much of spring on the western side of the prairies.

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“We’re probably going to continue with a drier bias as we go through the balance of the spring season, but the driest areas will likely shift further to the north,” he notes. “The driest areas will then become focused on the Edson through Calgary area in Alberta and then east through Lloydminster and maybe Kindersley, off to Saskatoon, Wynyard and maybe as far south as Moose Jaw.”

Meanwhile, in eastern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, planting is on hold in many areas due to wet conditions and above-normal precipitation this spring. Lerner expects the regular precipitation to continue through seeding, before possibly turning dry in summer.

“Having a moisture surplus at the beginning of the season could help in the long run, even though there will be some delays in planting,” he says.

As for temperatures, he says the eastern prairies will continue to see a below-normal trend. The cool bias could include late-season frost, although the crop risk will likely be less than last year.

“The chance of us being as far along in planting as early as we were last year is going to be small in the eastern parts of the region,” he says.

Lerner expects a warmer bias for the western side of the prairies through the next few weeks, as the high pressure ridge moves east with the weakening of El Nino. He says that could turn around in summer, with a cooler bias in the west and a warmer bias on the eastern side of the prairies.

Stay tuned — we’ll share Lerner’s outlook for Ontario in the next few days.

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