A very dry beginning to the crop season across the Prairies threw a wrench into what had started as an early season in 2015. Crop seeding started early, but crop development suffered from lack of soil moisture into the first half of July. Many early-seeded crops with promise of a fruitful season suffered slow and delayed development until beneficial rains finally made their way into Western Canada during the second half of July.
On the whole, most of the Prairies ended up with near or slightly above normal rainfall for July with Saskatchewan seeing 116% of normal as a provincial average. Manitoba was a little short, but was also a region less involved with the dry scenario that had been taking place during the spring and early summer.
Alberta, while seeing near-normal monthly totals during July, was so short on rain earlier in the season that many areas are still in need of a couple of good soakings to bring soil moisture levels back to manageable levels. Some parts of Alberta have seen just what the doctor ordered during the past 24 to 48 hours with upwards of 2 inches falling in Calgary, although some areas also received hail.
A slow-moving low pressure area across southeast Alberta today will slide only slowly eastward across the southern Prairies during the next 48 hours giving most areas another fairly healthy dose of water between now and Friday night. Even dried-out Alberta may see more moderate to locally heavy showers before low pressure pulls away early Friday.
Seasonal precipitation has increased dramatically across Saskatchewan and Manitoba during the recent two-week period. The accompanying chart now shows a majority of green from west-central Saskatchewan eastward to Manitoba where just a couple of weeks ago large areas of red were being shown. The green tells us that for the season rainfall has now reached normal or even a little above-normal levels for some.
Alberta still is running short, but rains with the current storm system will bring help to at least central and southeast Alberta and some improvement should be expected for some of the orange and red areas by this weekend.
Most crops across the region have showed renewed vigor with the recent rains and developing and maturing crops have a better outlook for this season. Some harvest and swathing has begun for some of the spring cereal crops and the rain may hamper some of those harvest efforts, but most everyone will still welcome the rains. For those beginning harvest there will be some good harvest weather arriving later this weekend into early next week.
The outlook for Western Canada during the remainder of August remains good with a few episodes of rain expected from time-to-time and a temperature pattern favorable for maturing crops. There should also be enough sunny, dry weather to help developing harvest activity to proceed without major delay. 2015 is looking a little like a few of the past few seasons when early season problems brought fears of diminished yields, but in the end all turned out pretty good.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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