Winter appears to be packing up and heading out of town across Western Canada as the polar jet stream weakens and lifts northward. Cold air that has been pooled across western and northwestern Canada is finally being warmed by the strengthening sunshine and sun angle which results in a quick jump in temperature.
Temperatures are jumping back to where they should be, and also it appears that a northward shift in the main storm track will end the series of snow events seen during the past several weeks. The good news is drier, warmer weather. The bad news is that the existing snow cover will melt down at a fairly rapid pace during coming days and weeks, and will likely result in flooding of rivers and streams.
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Temperatures during the next several days are expected to jump to 15 to 20 degrees C (59 to 68 F) for afternoon readings in many areas with even the nighttime lows staying at or above 0 C (32 F). A brief cool down should be expected during the middle of next week before higher temperatures resume.
Given the extent of the snow pack, we would expect flooding to be significant for a good portion of the region, especially across Saskatchewan and Manitoba. One piece of possible good news is that the overall weather pattern for the next couple of weeks does not appear to produce lots of precipitation, which would have added more water to the melt down. Some lighter amounts of rain or showers still might occur from time to time.
Snow water Equivalent (SWE) levels, as of April 22, have shown improvement across Alberta where southern areas have increased levels of bare ground or very little snow. The core of the heavy snow pack continues to be from south-central Saskatchewan to southwest-central Manitoba where SWE amounts remain at 40 to 120 mm (1.6 to 4.7 inches).
Fieldwork plans and seeding are likely to be delayed up to several weeks for much of the region. Flooding during coming weeks promises to lead to further issues, such as farmers getting their fertilizer to apply when they are seeding. The potential of high soil moisture levels and flooding of some of the lowland fields next month are also problems that may arise and will need to be monitored.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org