Ag Weather Forum

Arctic Chill Covers Prairies

Doug Webster
By  Doug Webster , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist

If you are looking for signs of spring across Western Canada you will be hard pressed to find much during the first half of March as it appears now. The weather pattern is likely to undergo some changes across North America that will bring some changes to some areas but Western Canada is not one of those places.

For about a month we have seen a strong ridge near the West Coast of Canada extend southward into the western U.S. along with a very deep eastern Canada and U.S. trough. During the next week, most all indications point to a westward shift of the pattern along with de-amplification of the ridge/trough pattern.

The western North America ridge is likely to shift into the eastern Pacific while a weakened trough shifts to the west-central part of Canada and down into the interior West of the U.S. This new pattern brings changes to the western U.S. in the form of much colder weather and increased winter weather. The eastern U.S. will see temperatures moderate from well-below normal to near-to-below normal, but still with more winter weather threats ahead.

For Western Canada, the only change appears to be an end to the occasional spike of warming Chinook winds across Alberta. Instead of the big see-saw temperature patterns of the past few weeks, a more sustained cold pattern should be seen across Alberta while Saskatchewan and Manitoba go on with business as usual with below-normal temperatures much of the time well into March.

Earlier this week, we saw record low temperatures visit parts of Saskatchewan where readings at Prince Albert fell to minus 41.1C (minus 42 Fahrenheit). Just a day later, afternoon temperatures rocketed to 1.7 Celsius (35 Fahrenheit), a 42.9 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) degree rise in just 36 hours! Similar roller coaster temperature traces were observed across Alberta. With the westward shift to the mean upper trough position during the next week we should see the cold weather become better entrenched across far Western Canada with even British Columbia turning quite cold.

Snow prospects continue to look limited with only a few flurries here and there once in a while. A brief period of light snow may visit the region Monday as a new surge of arctic cold slides southward out of northwest Canada.

The March outlook continues to show a greater likelihood of colder-than-normal weather across Western Canada than milder-than-normal readings. Precipitation is expected to average a little above normal, but March is still not a big precipitation producer compared to the summer months. There is potential that we see a slight nudge back to the east with the mean upper level trough back to the eastern half of Canada in a couple of weeks. This would bring a return of the roller coaster temperature pattern to the west while cold would stay more locked in across the east.

During the fall there was talk of El Nino having some impact on our winter weather pattern which would have favored mild, dry weather. As we now know, the El Nino conditions have never materialized for Western Canada this winter, other than maybe having some input with respect to the mild weather of December. Since then, the El Nino has been a no show.

Doug Webster can be reached at



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2/27/2015 | 9:42 AM CST
What is the extended forcast for the Dakotas and Minnesota. Much of the same temperatures like February?