During the middle of May, dryness was a big issue across most of Alberta and western Saskatchewan as the effects of the past season's El Nino and the dry weather it brings were on display. The second half of May has brought two significant rain events that have pretty much restored soil moisture to acceptable levels for many of these areas.
Surface soil moisture ratings, as of May 17, showed 70% of Alberta covered with fair to poor ratings. As of May 26, an almost remarkable recovery to 73% coverage of good to excellent soil moisture conditions are being reported. May rainfall for Alberta was an average of 144% of normal, while Saskatchewan had 130% of normal.
Thanks can be given to two wet weather makers that crossed the Prairies during the last two weeks of May, each bringing a substantial amount of rain. Some areas that saw minimal amounts the first time were rewarded with heavier totals with the second event.
The attached chart from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada depicts the percent of precipitation across the Prairies since April 1. Most of the region is now at or above normal for this period. This same chart from just two weeks ago showed large areas of red or less than 40% of normal rainfall across Alberta and western Saskatchewan.
The rainfall recovery is great news for farmers despite having to deal with some seeding delays. Seeding has been ahead of schedule this spring and the rain only slowed down operations for a few days. Most would trade the seeding delays for the welcomed return of the rain.
For most areas seeding is mostly complete as we turn the page into June and many areas are reporting emerging crops. The weather continues to be kind for most areas with the majority of the three provinces seeing favorably warm weather and good soil moisture conditions for germination and development.
The weather outlook continues to be a favorable one as we move forward. Showers will fall in many areas during the next day or two which will welcome in a period of higher temperatures and mostly dry weather later this weekend into the middle of next week.
The main jet stream flow will bubble northward and allow for a period of above-normal temperatures to develop across Western Canada for several days. Some of the eastern Prairies may see somewhat lower temperatures because of a pool of cool weather across the eastern half of the nation.
Any locations that start to see soil moisture diminish during the early and midweek period of next week should see a new low pressure area and rain threat arrive later next week. The overall weather pattern appears to be one that will favor crop development with temperatures near to above normal and with ample amounts of rain as we head into mid and late June.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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