(Rural Roots Canada) – Fields of green!

Elie, Manitoba.  Courtesy: Manitoba 511
Balgonie, Saskatchewan.  Courtesy: Highway Hotline
Sibbald, Alberta.  Courtesy: 511 Alberta

The prairies are greening up, after successful seeding. Wet weather continued across the prairies last week, adding to the surplus of rainfall, and the beneficial increase to soil moisture.  In most of the agricultural areas of the three prairie provinces, soil moisture is now more than adequate.  Some areas, though, received so much rain that seeding had to be delayed, and some farms are now reportedly running behind schedule.  These delays have affected operations mainly in Saskatchewan and western Manitoba.  This week, there will still be rain, but not as much, and not as widespread. Most of the rain will come from showers and thunderstorms, rather than large scale weather systems.

Here is a chart showing precipitation amounts in the 90 days leading up to May 24 in Alberta.  The locations are ranked in order of the highest to lowest anomaly percentages:

Data: NWS Climate Prediction Center

In its latest Agricultural Moisture Situation Update, issued May 20, Alberta Agriculture notes several areas around Lethbridge and in North Central Alberta now have soil moisture reserves nearing capacity, and there is a risk of localized flooding if rain continues to fall on the saturated ground.   The report stresses this is not a warning of flooding, just an advisory to be watchful.

In Saskatchewan, with the exception of Regina, there has also been well in excess of average precipitation in the past 90 days:

Data: NWS Climate Prediction Center

In Saskatchewan, seeding has been delayed in many areas due to wet weather, but this week, there should be plenty of opportunity to catch up, as rainfall slows down.  The latest Saskatchewan crop report shows cropland topsoil moisture as adequate or surplus across 95 percent of the province’s agricultural land.

Manitoba had another wet week, with localized flooding, and heavier rainfalls on the western side of the province.   Rainfall over the past 90 days across southern Manitoba, in most areas, has gone well over 100 percent of normal;

Data: NWS Climate Prediction Center

As the map below shows, soil moisture in most of the agricultural land in Manitoba was considered either optimal or wet, and that was before last week’s rainfall:

Courtesy: Manitoba Agriculture Weather Program

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This week will be somewhat drier across the prairies, and that will ease concerns over flooding on saturated land, and should allow those who’ve had to delay seeding to continue their work.


Overall it’s expected to be a dry day across the prairies, however there will be a risk of isolated showers and thundershowers across southern Saskatchewan and in Manitoba south of the Trans Canada Highway.   Expect rain north of Lake Winnipeg, weakening as it migrates south throughout the day.  A Low pressure system in northern Minnesota will spread some rain into southeastern Manitoba in the morning and early afternoon.


Manitoba and Saskatchewan will be dry and mainly sunny.  If there’s any catch-up seeding to be done, this will be the day to do it.  It will be cool in Manitoba, with temperatures only reaching the low double digits at best.  Warmer in Saskatchewan – temps in the high teens.  In Alberta, it will be cloudier, with some afternoon showers or light rain immediately northwest of Edmonton. Thundershowers in that area can’t be ruled out.


The weather becomes a bit more active with morning showers and afternoon thundershowers in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan.  Humidity could become an issue in southern Saskatchewan, with temperatures in the mid twenties during the afternoon thunderstorms.  The heaviest weather can be expected between Regina and Montana.  It will be cooler in Alberta, with weaker thunderstorms between Calgary and Edmonton, and in the Fort MacMurray area.   Snow is likely in the higher elevations of the Rockies.


Wetter weather returns for the second half of the week, along with the ever-present threat of afternoon showers and thunderstorms across the three prairie provinces.  A Low pressure system near Flin Flon will produce some fairly heavy rain north of Saskatoon.  In the agricultural south, there will also be wet weather, as cool air wraps around the Flin Flon low, lowering the temperature, and therefore the atmosphere’s capacity to hold water.   That means rain for most of Alberta north of Calgary, snow in the mountains, scattered thunderstorms in southern Alberta, rain and storms from the Cypress Hills to Regina, and more rain for southwestern Manitoba.


The Flin Flon low heads into northern Saskatchewan, and takes most of its moisture with it.  However, the northerly flow continues across the prairies, and it will remain cooler than average, with showers and thundershowers across the region, but mainly in Saskatchewan, and primarily north of the Trans Canada Highway.

Saturday and Sunday:

Seasonable conditions return for the weekend, with temperatures climbing back to the high teens and low 20s across the prairies.  However, the atmosphere will remain unstable, and showers and thunderstorms remain possible both days across all three prairie provinces.

COMPARED TO LAST WEEK: Prairie Weather this Week: May 20

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