Ag Weather Forum

Cold Start to Prairies Spring

Below normal temperatures are featured in the Prairies forecast through at least mid-April. (DTN graphic)

Cold and snowy is what you would expect in Canada, but perhaps not for the entire month of April. Conditions in the Canadian Prairies are set to stagnate in a cutoff low pattern that will extend winter weather by at least a couple of weeks.

Redeveloping snow cover is also likely in the eastern sector, mainly in Manitoba; this is after snow had melted off during the last couple weeks.

DTN estimates that up to 25 centimeters (about 10 inches) of snow can be expected out of a slow-moving storm system during early April.

Further west in Alberta, it has been quite cold and snowy as well. "We had a high of 12 Fahrenheit (minus 11 Celsius) here yesterday (April 1) and got about an inch of snow almost every night this week" said DTN Canada Grains Analyst Cliff Jamieson, who lives near Calgary.

We would expect warmer weather to move into the region with the start of spring, reducing snow cover, increasing soil temperatures, and allowing the first signs of green pastures to show up. Instead, it looks like we will have the opposite. The pattern has turned to a much colder one this week and looks to continue through next week as well. Temperatures this week are well below normal. High temperatures on April 2 are only expected to get to minus 5 to minus 12 C (about 10-22 F) and only a couple of degrees warmer on April 3.

Temperatures will become milder early next week but will still be below normal. Another system moving through April 10-11 will produce additional snow and return the region to well below normal temperatures. Producers looking to get a start on the growing season may have to wait a few more weeks and greening of pastures may take longer.

Looking further out, models are suggesting that the upper-level trough and attendant below normal temperatures could be very persistent for the remainder of April and into the first half of May. Spring wheat planting season may be further delayed by periods of snow and below ideal soil temperatures. Stress to newborn calves and lambs could also be a concern. If pasturelands do not green up soon, this could put additional stress on finding enough hay for producers to weather the next month.

John Baranick can be reached at



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