The rain and cool temperatures of June are hopefully a thing of the past, but not all signs are on board with that outlook. Temperatures during June were cooler than normal by 0.2 to 1.2 degrees C across the Prairies. Though not below normal by huge amounts, the chillier-than-normal readings combined with heavy rains have affected developing crops.
Rainfall totals across Alberta last month averaged 130% of normal while amounts rise to 191% and 198% of normal, respectively, for Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Two major rain events produced flooding of fields and slowed crop development.
The gloomy conditions and cool temperatures have slowed crop development since mid-June so that at least half of most crops are now behind their normal pace of development. Soil moisture conditions are mostly adequate to surplus with excess moisture and local flooding leading to crop damage in some areas. The greatest amount of excess wetness is across Saskatchewan and Manitoba while conditions are a little more favorable across Alberta.
During the past few days a drier and slowly warmer weather pattern has been evolving across western Canada as enough of a ridge from the western U.S. pushes northward. This ridge should bring a few more days of warmer temperatures and mostly dry weather to the region, helping to dry soils and to allow for increased crop growth.
The question then becomes how long will the improved pattern last? It appears the jet stream flow will settle southward again later this weekend into next week, along with an increase in shower threats. What we do not see is a threat for widespread heavy rains again this time around with a more normal hit-and-miss shower threat as the cold front and low pressure area cross the region Sunday and Monday.
Warm temperatures into the early weekend should cool back some early next week, but probably only to seasonable levels. We may see some increase in temperature along with minimal rain threats as we move into the middle and end of next week.
Can we say goodbye to the cool, wet pattern for the summer? I would not want to sign off on that just yet. There continue to be some computer model forecasts that bring back cooler, wetter weather as we move deeper into July and into August. The hope is that there is enough warmer, drier weather in the meantime to allow for increased crop growth and that any cooler, wetter weather later on is not of the magnitude of what we saw during June.
Some of the same players that brought the cool, wet spring are still with us across North America. The trough across the Gulf of Alaska is still there and can at any time send a new series of troughs inland across western Canada. The track of these troughs is all important as to whether the Prairies sees a few spotty showers or another dumping of heavy rains.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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