Weather patterns across Western Canada have not been boring during the past few months with quite a variation in weather types depending on one's location. Spring conditions were common during the winter, but there were also a few brief periods of the typical winter cold and snow as well.
So far during early spring, we have still seen varying conditions with eastern areas much more in the winter camp than the west, where record-high temperatures have popped up at times. Precipitation has been reasonable, but on average is a little less than we would expect at 81% of normal for 18 key stations across the Prairies so far during 2016.
Temperatures have averaged 3.7 degrees Celsius above normal for these same set of weather stations through the first three months of the year. Temperatures have been more consistently warm for Alberta than across Manitoba and during April the cold east/warm west pattern has amplified.
El Nino is still alive and well, but not as strong as it was during December. Observed weather across Canada and the U.S. continue to show earmarks of an El Nino type pattern despite the weakening of the Pacific Ocean warmth along the equator. As we move deeper into spring and the sun grows strong, the opportunity for amplified warmth is growing and there are many indications that for a few days next week temperatures may soar to summer levels across almost all of the Prairies.
The accompanying chart from Environment Canada shows the forecast average temperature departure for the next 10 days. Across the main crop areas of Western Canada we see readings forecast to average from 3 to nearly 5 degrees C above normal during the next 10 days. It should be noted that during the first four days or so of this period temperatures are expected to be close to normal and cooler weather may return before the 10-day period is complete.
That leaves us with a middle period of the 10-day period during next week when temperatures could average as much as 6 to 12 degrees C above normal for some of the region. There appears to be potential that afternoon high temperatures could reach as high as 25 C to 30 C (77 to 86 Fahrenheit) for some, helped along by full sunshine and westerly winds down sloping off of the Rockies.
More record-high readings may be observed for parts of Western Canada with this pattern and since late March record highs have been popping up for some western areas at times. The reason for the warmth will be a ridge of high pressure aloft, more like we see during summer, which will send the jet stream northward into the Northwest Territories for a few days.
The sunshine and warmth will continue to melt any remaining snow cover that now encompasses only the far northern reaches of the crop areas and dry out the ground for areas that are already bare. Considering that the forecast for spring continues to show mild weather and somewhat below-normal amounts of precipitation, we should keep an eye on the potential of developing dryness for the Prairies as seeding season grows closer.
The upside to the weather of the next week is that farmers will be able to get out and get started on early season fieldwork if they have not already started.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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