Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – We are less than two weeks away from the start of Meteorological Spring – the months of March, April, and May.

We go into the new season with a persistent drought.  The North American Drought Monitor was updated on February 15 and shows 81 percent of agricultural land across Canada to be in some form of drought.

It’s particularly serious in southern Alberta, where a large chunk of territory is in either extreme or exceptional drought.   Added to the concern is a low mountain snowpack, along with low reservoir levels.

The map below is from the new drought monitor, showing parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan coping with either a short term drought (S), or a long term drought (L).

 Courtesy: NOAA

Meteorological Spring is statistically one of the wettest times of year.  However, we are emerging from an El Nino,  and it will take months to complete the transition.  So… the dry El Nino conditions we experienced over the winter are likely to continue into spring.

Because of El Nino, the storm track (red line on the map below) is well to the north.   We need it to shift southward over the next few weeks in order to get any significant precipitation on the southern prairies.   The blue line shows where we need the storm track to be, across the northern parts of Montana and North Dakota.   There is, unfortunately, no sign that the storm track will make any kind of significant move in the near future.

Courtesy: ECCC

From these highway cameras (Carstairs, AB,  Balgonie, SK, and Letellier, MB), it’s not hard to tell the need for moisture is great.

Courtesy: 511Alberta, Highway Hotline, Manitoba511

Courtesy: 511Alberta, Highway Hotline, Manitoba511

No significant precipitation is expected across the prairies this week.  Temperatures will remain above average across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the southern half of Manitoba for the entire week.  Below average temperatures are expected in northern Manitoba, but only within 100 km of the Hudson Bay coast.


No significant weather is expected this week, but there is a chance of light snow in the far northeastern corner of the province on Tuesday, and in the foothills west of highway 2 and north of highway 11 early Wednesday morning.   Accumulations will be minor, if not insignificant.   It’s too far into the future to be certain, but another chance of snow in central and northern Alberta is possible Saturday, though it will be widely scattered, with, again, minor accumulations.  Some of that snow could head into the Edmonton – Calgary corridor Saturday afternoon.   High wind chill is a concern along the Saskatchewan boundary Monday, south of Lloydminster to the US border.


Southern Saskatchewan will also have a generally dry week, with some light snow possible in a line from Moosomin to North Battleford early Friday morning.   Snow is possible Saturday over the northern third of Saskatchewan Saturday as a Low intensifies over northern Manitoba.


Southern Manitoba should be warmer than average for most of the week, with the rest of the province closer to average.  A weak Low north of Norway House Thursday morning, will provide light snow to the northern part of the province.   That snow will move southward throughout the day.   At this point it appears to be taking aim at southwestern Manitoba, west of Portage La Prairie.   Another Low pressure system forms in the Northwest Territories midweek, then moves into northern Manitoba on Saturday.   Snow from that Low has the potential for some significant accumulations, but that’ll happen north of the Lakes, and well away from agricultural concerns.

While things appear bleak now, we can take some hope from California.  A year ago, it was in a severe drought, and there appeared to be no end in sight.   Some were conflating climate with weather, and were starting to call it the “new normal”.   Today, there is no drought in California, thanks a change in the weather brought about by El Nino.   Mother Nature will change our weather, too, but she’s not saying when.

COMPARE LAST WEEK’S REPORT: Prairie Weather this Week: February 12