Temperatures have soared across Western Canada during the past week to above-normal levels after the region suffered through near record cold during the first week of March. A much more spring-like outlook is looking more likely for the remainder of March.
The weather pattern across Canada and the U.S. has not changed in a big way from what we have seen for the past several months, but it has changed enough to allow Western Canada to enjoy a milder weather pattern as Pacific air and Chinook winds send temperatures to above- and even well-above-normal temperatures at times. As has been the case for most of the winter, eastern areas, particularly Manitoba, may see some brief shots of cold air with one such event arriving this weekend.
The large-scale weather pattern across Canada will favor below-normal temperatures across the eastern half of the nation for the remainder of the month with that old polar vortex still wandering about across the Hudson Bay and northern Quebec area. The ridge across Western Canada has de-amplified enough to allow for considerable moderation in temperatures for the Prairies and it looks like this general pattern will last for much of the remainder of the month.
Temperatures should be mild enough to allow for some melting each day of the snow pack, but not fast enough to produce any significant flooding. No important storms with snow or rain are foreseen for at least the next week and typically a weather pattern as we are seeing now does not produce lots of precipitation. We can be cautiously optimistic that the region may fare a little better with the start of spring this year versus the spring of 2013.
It is early and we certainly can still have plenty of winter weather during April, as we did last year, but early signals for next month do not show severe cold nor is excessive precipitation being forecast by the climate models. Current forecasts are showing slightly cooler than normal readings for Manitoba and Saskatchewan with near- to above-normal temperatures for Alberta. Forecast precipitation is forecast to be slightly above normal, and is something to keep watch.
Given the forecast for the remainder of March, we may be able to melt down some of the snow pack during the coming few weeks and improve prospects for some early spring fieldwork as we move in April. As long as we stay away from major storms and a rebuild of the snow pack, the outlook for starting the planting season in a timelier manner appears to be better this year than last.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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