Higher temperatures are not far down the road for Western Canada as the seasons continue to shift to more of a spring pattern. The main polar jet stream that has delivered shots of cold to the Prairies since mid-winter is now taking on more of a west-to-east motion.
This flow pattern allows for Pacific air to make it up and over the Rockies producing downslope winds across the Prairies. Chilly weather during the next two or three days will be replaced by rapidly higher readings during the early and mid-week period of next week, up to the 15 to 20 Celsius degree range for western and central areas and to near 15 C for Manitoba.
With a fairly deep snow cover still in place across Manitoba and central and northern Saskatchewan, the warming pattern will be not so strong. Snow depths across southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan are low at this time and we will probably see bare ground appear for these areas next week while the spring meltdown starts in earnest elsewhere. Snow cover and snow water equivalent within the snow is not nearly as high as last year, thus the flood threat should not be extreme, especially with a forecast of only a little spotty light precipitation or nothing during the next week.
This will allow some early fieldwork quite soon for southern and southwestern areas but overall a delay in the start of spring fieldwork is probably the rule for most. The outlook for the remainder of April is not a bad one with most signals pointing toward near- to above-normal temperatures and a little less-than-normal precipitation. If this forecast works out, we should see an earlier start to spring fieldwork and planting than last year.
While the warming weather outlook is in place, we still should expect a shot or two of chilly weather once in a while and a late-season snowfall would not be surprising, but the overall pattern is shifting into one with more mild weather and drier conditions than one with snow and cold.
The snow cover and frozen ground across the region should be on a definite decline during the next few weeks as the sun angle gets higher in the sky. The anomalous cold areal coverage across Canada is now on the decline and should continue to do so during the coming week or two with most of the serious chilly weather moving to northern and northeastern parts of the nation closer to the polar vortex.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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