Surviving on four inches of rain and having next to nothing for soil moisture reserves can’t last more than two growing seasons. So, what can be predicted for the weather in the west this year?

“We’re walking on thin ice as they say,” says Drew Lerner of World Weather Inc. “There’s certainly a large part of Saskatchewan, even a few areas in southern Alberta, but mostly Saskatchewan and Manitoba are in that position where we’re going to need to get some decent spring moisture or late winter precipitation.”

It’s not only dry in the eastern Prairies, but also into the western U.S. and down into Mexico, which raises a big concern for Lerner and other forecasters; because just having dryness out there without any other weather pattern raises the potential for ridge buildingĀ  during the warm season, says Lerner. The ground will heat up faster, the relative humidity will be low, and the temperature will get warmer quicker.

Lerner isn’t convinced the soil moisture profile will fully recover in the spring, which farmers wouldn’t benefit from anyways, as they’ll need to get into fields to plant. Lerner predicts some cool temperatures in the eastern part of the Prairies, and warm temperatures in the west, with some precipitation around. It’ll turn drier getting further into the growing season.

Three different 18-year-cycle years demonstrate at least two out of the three summer months as being below average precipitation for Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Lerner says. Couple this information with the large moisture deficits, considering a more conservative approach to agronomics might be wise, but it won’t be a problem right off the bat says Lerner.

There will be a risk of frost and freezing, so there is a risk of planting too early, in particular in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, he adds.

Listen to the full conversation for the current patterns in North America, and the weather headed our way in the coming months:

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