(Rural Roots Canada) – We’re headed into another week of warm, dry weather across most of the prairies, and that’s not good news.   The new drought monitor has been released, and despite above average precipitation in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and most of Manitoba in February, there is little change in drought conditions.


The moisture deficit has been accumulating over several years, leaving reservoirs low,  groundwater levels low, and pasture quality poor.   98% of the prairie provinces are in situations ranging from D0- abnormally dry to D4 – Exceptional Drought.    The latest analysis from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is, to say the least, troubling, especially for Alberta:


We’re now entering our traditionally wet season across the prairies, and for the next 4 to 6 weeks, we can get just about anything – snow, rain, freezing rain, mixed precipitation, convective snow showers, convective rain showers….and there will be a bit of that this week, especially in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.   But we need a lot more.

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A low pressure system off the northern BC coast will give rain to coastal areas, and snow to the BC Rockies.  Unfortunately, the precipitation doesn’t move east from there.   With chinook conditions, It’s expected to be mainly sunny across Alberta and southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with above average temperatures.   It’s likely to remain windy along the Alberta/Montana border.


A bit more cloud moves into Alberta, and there’s a slight chance of scattered flurries or even showers just east of Lethbridge, and snow showers in the far northwestern corner of the province.   A weak low in southeastern Alberta will drive milder air and a bit of moisture into southern Saskatchewan, so don’t be surprised to see a few rain showers east of Swift Current and south of the Trans Canada Highway Tuesday afternoon.   Double digit high temperatures are likely between Calgary and Regina.  There will be precipitation in northern Manitoba, with rain at the northern tip of the lakes changing to snow near and north of Thompson.


There is a slight threat of freezing rain before sunrise Wednesday morning near Edmonton,  along the Trans Canada highway west of Regina, in southeastern Saskatchewan and in Manitoba, in a west-east line from Tolstoi to Sprague, along the US border.  Behind that, later in the day, light snow or flurries are possible through central and southeastern Saskatchewan,  and in southwestern and northeastern Manitoba.


An upper ridge of high pressure builds off the west coast, deflecting any Pacific moisture well to the north.   The prairies, with the exception of far northeastern Saskatchewan and northwestern Manitoba, should stay dry, though mainly cloudy.   It will be quite warm, with another shot at double digit highs in southern Alberta.


Alberta and southern Saskatchewan remain dry, but a system in northern Saskatchewan will intensify and spread frontal moisture into northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  Most of it will be snow, but there may be rain on the warm side of the front.   Most of this precipitation will fall over forested land, missing agricultural areas to the south.  By Friday afternoon, much of the moisture in central Manitoba will change from snow to rain, and there may be a few showers in Alberta’s Peace Country.


Remnant snow and rain continues in Manitoba, mainly east of the lakes, and in the Canadian Shield east of Winnipeg.  There may be a few rain showers in southwestern Manitoba.   More significantly, a low will form north of Edmonton that could produce significant snow in northern Alberta.  However, this is a fast moving Alberta clipper, and the snow will fall for perhaps only half a day at most.  As the low moves to southeastern Saskatchewan by the end of the day, we could see snow from Saskatoon to Portage La Prairie, with rain in and south of Winnipeg.  That rain will turn to snow Saturday night and taper off on Sunday.


A northwesterly flow on Sunday will bring cooler air to the prairies, particularly Saskatchewan and Manitoba, along with more snow.   While snow amounts will be light, a strong wind may create some uncomfortable weather, especially from Regina all the way east to northwestern Ontario.   Temperatures will be well below zero in the morning for Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and cooler than average in Alberta as well.   By the afternoon, Alberta temperatures will rise above zero west of Highway 2, while the rest of the prairies continue to endure sub-freezing weather.

COMPARE LAST WEEK: Prairie Weather this Week: March 4

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