Rainfall during the spring in Canada's Prairies continues to average at below-normal levels while temperatures vary somewhat. Dry weather is mostly favorable for planting crops in the region while low temperatures have, at times, slowed germination and early growth.
As we approach the last part of spring and with planting proceeding rapidly, the questions now turn to when we might see needed rains and when we might see a warmer weather pattern in the area.
The included graphic today is what the United States and European forecast models expect the upper level maps to look like during the mean eight- to 10-day period. This is basically the last part of next week and the following weekend.
The most significant aspect on these maps is the unusually strong trough, for this date, in Canada. The position of the trough is a little different depending on the model. The U.S. model shows the strong trough centered west of where the European model wants to put it. The difference is that the U.S. model would hold the below-normal temperatures across the Canadian Prairies longer than the European model would.
This is due to the north-to-south flow west of the low pressure center and the below- to much-below normal heights as indicated by the blue shading. The European model indicates warmer weather to move into the western areas. You will note that the European model has little, if any, blue shading over the Prairies and even shows a little red or orange shading over the southwest areas. This indicates slightly-above-normal heights and would likely mean above-normal temperatures.
However, neither model is suggesting that needed rains would occur as there is too much north or northwest flow to allow moisture to come up from the south and it is difficult during the early season to get systems across the Rockies with enough moisture to make much difference in the region.
The five-day, and six- to 10-day forecast, reflect the generally below-normal rainfall pattern on both models. The temperature patterns are similar in nature during the five-day forecast period, but somewhat different during days six-to-10. As expected, the European model is much warmer for western locations. This is especially evident on today's operational run but even the ensemble mean of that model has above-normal temperatures over Alberta during that time frame.
The extended range forecasts that go out beyond the 10-day period continue to suggest that a more normal temperature and rainfall pattern might finally reach the Canadian Prairies during the first full week of June. However, I have seen this before when you look at that time frame and would view this idea with caution.
The forecast suggests that the pattern of favorable weather for planting in the region will continue during the next 10 days. However, stress is likely to build on developing crops due to a lack of significant rain outside of a few local areas. I suspect that even the warmer pattern depicted on today's European model would not be very helpful for crops, if it occurs without much added moisture to the region. So, while the Northern plains region of the U.S. is struggling with a weather pattern featuring wet and cold conditions, the Canadian Prairies region might stay drier a little while longer.
Joel Burgio can be reached at email@example.com
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