Ag Weather Forum

Drier Stretch Coming for Canadian Prairies?

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
A ridge building into western North America next week will change the weather pattern, but for how long? (Tropical Tidbits graphic)

This spring has been a very wet period in the Canadian Prairies. It was needed as the last few seasons have been very dry and snowpack during the winter was miniscule for most areas. Drought reduction has certainly taken place. Flooding and ponding have not been widespread across the region thanks to the drought, which allowed a lot of the moisture to soak in. But topsoils have remained wet.

The barrage of systems and short breaks between storms and showers in recent weeks has meant a slower seeding pace for a lot of the region as well, particularly across the east. These areas would like to see a drier stretch of weather return for at least a little while to get the last of the seed in the ground and to allow wet soils to drain a bit.

Wet conditions are going to last for at least the next five days, however. Although a system has largely lifted north out of the region on May 31, some isolated showers are likely to develop over portions of the region through June 1. Another system looks like it will scrape through southern areas on June 2 with another moving through much of the region June 3-4. The low center to that system will be slow to move eastward later next week and showers may linger for a couple of days afterward, especially in Manitoba.

Altogether, another 5-15 millimeters (0.2-0.6 inch) is expected over Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan, with 10-25 mm (0.4-1 inch) and locally heavier amounts across far northern areas as well as Manitoba from the combined storms.

There is a change in the upper-level pattern coming afterward, however. An upper-level trough has moved into the region and will be continually added to through early next week. But an upper-level ridge will develop over the western U.S. and up into Western Canada by the middle of next week and that will have the tendency to promote drier conditions for the region. It appears to be strong enough to resist and deflect coming disturbances from an upper-level trough developing in the North Pacific, but the duration of this block is in question. The European model is more consistent on a stronger block while the American GFS model isn't quite as strong and allows some disturbances to either move over the top of the ridge or through it, bringing more showers to the Prairies starting later next week, a very short break.

The region will be on the edge of the changing pattern, which will affect the temperature distribution as well. Lower temperatures continue to be in place underneath that upper-level trough through early next week. Temperatures will try to rise as the ridge builds into the west, but eastern areas will be under northwest flow and a nearby trough over the eastern U.S., making for some potential for colder conditions. That may produce frosts, most likely in Manitoba, but that is questionable as well. Models, and especially the European model, have been non-committal about that potential just yet.

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John Baranick can be reached at john.baranick@dtn.com

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