Ag Weather Forum

Drought Massively Reduced in Canadian Prairies, Stays Wet Next Week

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
The Canadian drought monitor update from this week shows very limited areas of drought currently in the region, a stark turnaround from last month. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada graphic)

May was a very active month across the Canadian Prairies. Though some snow did occur, and it was more difficult to complete spring seeding, the boosts to soil moisture are setting up the 2024 season with mostly good conditions.

Rainfall was so good during the last month that the Canadian Drought Monitor significantly reduced the long-standing drought over most of the region, by up to three categories in some areas of southern and eastern Alberta, western Saskatchewan, and southern Manitoba.

The Canadian Drought Monitor indicates that most areas of the region have seen at least 100% of normal rainfall and many areas that saw the vast reduction saw 150% to more than 200% normal precipitation for the month of May. At the end of the month, 67% of the agricultural lands in the region were still in some form of dryness or drought, but that was down from 99% at the end of April. And no areas outside of the Peace region in northwestern Alberta, where conditions did not improve, were more than D2 -- severe drought.

In fact, even that 67% of coverage is misleading as most areas are designated D0 -- abnormal dryness, and all areas are marked as being "long-term" drought, or long-term deficits that are still noted, rather than anything short term that would be a negative impact for agriculture. Provincial crop reports note issues instead with wet conditions, being difficult to get the last of the seeding completed and having ponded water and flooding causing damage rather than issues with dryness or drought being a concern. They also note that soil moisture is much improved this spring and that is a good thing for crop growth this summer.

In the short term, and possibly the long term as well, the region will continue to be active. The pattern will maintain a storm track near or through the region starting with a larger system moving through Friday night and continuing through the weekend. Some thunderstorms and breezy winds will move through the region. The storm will set its cold front into the Northern Plains of the United States where it will stall and several disturbances riding along that front should bring showers northward into the Canadian Prairies as well.

The region likely will see some form of daily showers through next week. Though with thunderstorms likely confined to the U.S. after Sunday, the threat for areas of heavy rain are reduced. That results in mostly light to moderate rainfall over the region.

The bigger concern in the short term may be frost. Along with the pattern change, cooler temperatures will flow into the region starting on Sunday and the current forecast has below-normal temperatures sticking around through Wednesday, June 19. Those forecasts are not cold enough to have frost in any portion of the region at this time. However, if skies are allowed to clear out and winds to go calm between storms, there is some limited frost that may develop.

Though the pattern may change afterward, there seems to be no shortage of disturbances set to move through the Canadian Prairies. Models have active weather continuing into July as the region maintains mostly good soil conditions for this year's crop.

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John Baranick can be reached at


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