Ag Weather Forum

Summer Temperatures Needed in Canadian Prairies

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Below-normal temperatures are forecast for most of the Canadian Prairies through July 2, but are likely to continue for the rest of next week as well. (DTN graphic)

The lack of rainfall has not been an issue for very many in the Canadian Prairies so far this season. Outside some of those in southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan, rainfall has been above or in some cases well-above normal. Flooding has been more of an issue lately, including some of the previously driest parts of the region -- such as northern Saskatchewan and the Peace region in Alberta.

A very active storm track through the region has left most areas with good soil moisture, but it has been difficult to bring in warm weather. We are at the end of June and it has hard to find many days eclipsing the 25 degrees Celsius mark. According to data from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, there has not been a spot in the region that has had more than 10 days above 25 C since April 1, and no spots with more than three days above 30 C. Going through all of May and June with such little heat is both unusual and hurst crop growth in the region.

We often talk about getting the needed rainfall for good crop development, but plants also need warm weather to spur growth. Crop reports from both Saskatchewan and Manitoba this week note that crop development is behind schedule. Part of that was because of to later planting from soggy soils, but recently it has been the lack of warm weather. Instead, days of frost have been more common than days with heat. Several frost events, both isolated and widespread, have occurred since crop seeding accelerated in late April.

The upper-level pattern has been to blame for the colder conditions. The consistent intrusion of upper-level troughs of low pressure, that usually signal stormy weather, also bring in colder air. These have usually been sourced from the North Pacific, where temperatures are not extremely low, but on occasion have brought down colder air from northwestern Canada, which have resulted in the cases of frost.

Another upper-level trough has entered the region on June 28 and will bring down another round of cold air from the Yukon. It is hard for temperatures to fall below the freezing mark in late June or July, but this one will attempt to do so. Forecasts generally do not produce temperatures below 5 C (40 Fahrenheit), but these types of cold pockets are unusual and models are notorious for underplaying the risk of frost beyond the average late-frost date. That is especially true if skies become clear and winds go calm overnight. That could be possible for Alberta and Saskatchewan for June 29, and Manitoba for June 30.

Cooler air will likely stick around for the rest of next week with another chance for a burst of cooler weather late next week and weekend. Frost is less likely with that burst of low temperatures, but should be monitored as well.

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John Baranick can be reached at


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