Rural Roots Canada – Prairie Weather Report:

Prairie Weather
Courtesy: LinkedIn

….and there’s more to come!

More rain is forecast this week for all three prairie provinces, including most of the agricultural land.  Southern Alberta, where winter never seems to end, may get some snow later this week as well, especially west of highway 2.   All of this is, of course, welcome moisture, and adds to what has been a rather wet spring across the prairies.   With the end of El Nino, above average precipitation has occurred across the prairies over the 90 day period ending April 30.

Prairie Weather
Courtesy: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The map above shows above average precipitation across the prairies, with the exception of central Alberta, and the Grande Prairie region.  The Trans Canada corridor east of Calgary, and the Rosetown Kindersley area of Saskatchewan received moderately to extremely high rainfall, expressed in percentiles.   Note that the statistics do not include the snow and rain events that happened after the 1st of May.

This, however, does not mean the drought is over.  Far from it.   It’s still going to take a lot more precipitation to get us to where we need to be.   The map below shows soil moisture as a percentage of normal on April 30th.

Prairie Weather
Courtesy: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Soil moisture levels in southern Alberta, south of the Trans Canada Highway are either near normal or above.   Central Alberta has some very dry areas, northeast of Drumheller.  Saskatchewan remains largely dry, along with southern Manitoba west of the Red River.

This is the latest Drought Monitor map as of April 30th, before the rain and snow of early May:

Prairie Weather
Courtesy: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reports that, as of the end of April, 61 percent of Canada was classified as abnormally dry or in drought, and that includes 75 percent of agricultural land.   The timing of this spring’s rain could not be better.

Due to the lower than average snowpack in the Rockies, runoff in most river basins will remain below average to average through the summer.  The exception is the Red Deer River basin, where runoff is expected to be average or above average.


RECENT: Solar Storm Causes GPS Outages For Farmers

More wet weather, including rain, showers, thunderstorms, and even snow is expected this week.


A weak surface low will cross into Saskatchewan from southern Alberta, and a westerly wind will develop, helping to clear the forest fire smoke out of the area.   Showers can be expected in central Alberta, with showers and thundershowers in the southern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan during the afternoon and evening, in an unstable atmosphere.   It is impossible to forecast exactly where the storms will pop.  It’s like staring into a pot of boiling water, trying to predict the location of the first bubbles. Temperatures will reach the mid to high teens in southern Alberta, the low twenties in southern Saskatchewan, and the low teens across Manitoba.


A northwesterly flow will develop aloft, bringing cooler air to the prairies.   Temperatures in Alberta and Saskatchewan will remain below 20, and it will stay cool in Manitoba, with temperatures peaking in the low teens.   Showers and thundershowers will continue in southwestern Alberta in the early morning, gone by mid-afternoon.   In the morning, the surface low is right on the Montana/North Dakota border, pushing some rain into southern Saskatchewan.  By the end of the day, the low weakens, with the rain moving into Manitoba, roughly in a line from Winnipeg to Dauphin.


Mostly cloudy, quiet weather is expected in Alberta Wednesday.  An upper trough over Saskatchewan will generate rain or showers for both Saskatchewan and Manitoba’s Red River valley.  Temperatures across the prairies will peak in the high teens, with a chance of 20 degree readings from Medicine Hat to Swift Current.


Things get a lot more interesting again on Thursday, with the development of two vertically stacked lows….one in NW Alberta, the other near Lake Manitoba.   These strong lows will increase precipitation and decrease temperature.   Afternoon temperatures will only reach high single digits in the Peace region, with mid to high teen temperatures elsewhere across the prairies.   In the south, it will be cloudy from Medicine Hat to Moosomin, with peek-a-boo sunshine elsewhere.  As the Alberta low moves southeast through the day, expect rain, or even heavy rain in most of central and northern Alberta.  Showers are expected in southern Saskatchewan, along with rain in southeastern and northwestern Manitoba.


Cold! Saskatchewan and Alberta will experience cooler than average temperatures.  Manitoba will be warmer, even above average in the north.  Much of the prairies will get rain, wrapping around a low in west central Saskatchewan.  That low will draw in the cold air for most of the day.  It may even be cold enough for snow.  Snow is likely in Alberta west of highway 22.   However, one model brings the snow as far east as Calgary Friday morning.   It’s only one model, so there is a lot of uncertainty, but it is something to watch as the week goes on.  By the afternoon, the rain should consolidate in a band from central Alberta, across Saskatchewan, and into southwestern Manitoba.

Saturday and Sunday

Showers are expected to continue in southeastern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan on Saturday, tapering off on Sunday.   It will be cloudy over the agricultural land of all three provinces Saturday, but on Sunday, the clouds break up, and by the end of the day, most areas should become mainly sunny.  Saturday’s cold with only single digit highs across Alberta, and low double digits in southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  Temps will be near average in northern Saskatchewan.    With sunshine returning to most areas Sunday afternoon, temperature will climb to the low to mid teens across all three provinces.

And finally, a map showing how much total rain, in mm, can be expected up to the evening of Sunday, March 19.

Prairie Weather
Courtesy: Pivotal Weather

COMPARE TO LAST WEEK:  Prairie Weather this Week: May 6