Rain on its way but dry fall to come: forecaster

REGINA — World Weather Inc.’s Drew Lerner predicts a slightly wetter bias for much of the Prairies in July, followed by a warmer and drier than normal fall.

Lerner provided his summer-to-fall forecast to a crowd of hundreds at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina last week. He said two flow patterns are driving prairie weather this summer:

  • A southwest to northeast flow pattern brought much needed rain in mid-June to the eastern and southwestern prairie regions.
  • A northwest flow pattern has dominated prairie weather this summer. It is why many regions in the Canadian grain belt have been dry because there is no source for moisture for air coming from the north.

“As we go into the rest of the summer, at least July in particular, we are going to go back into a southwest flow pattern and that should bring us a couple more storms,” Lerner said.

However, he said the southwest flow may be robbed of its moisture before it reaches Canada if the northern plains drought continues.

“So just because we go into a southwest flow, that doesn’t mean it will be wet,” Lerner said. “I did put that on the forecast, that it will be a wetter bias, but I could be a little wrong, and it could be a little less wet than what I showed.”

Most prairie regions will begin to dry down August to September, except for southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba, which will likely see a few storms at this time.

“The rest of the Prairies will be progressively dry,” he said.

“It will be west to east, so we will start drying out in Alberta fairly quick, but Saskatchewan probably won’t turn very dry until we’re probably done with August into early September in a significant manner.”

However, he said it wouldn’t take long for the existing drought conditions to get much worse if a ridge of high pressure builds up across the heart of the Prairies.

“All it would really need is several 30 degrees plus days without any rain and the game’s over, almost, for some folks,” he said.

“By no means, even though that’s my forecast, am I here to tell you that that’s the way it’s going to be. I recognize the fact that I’m on a limb, and a very thin limb at that.”

The worst of the wet conditions that have plagued northern Alberta growers are over, he said.

“The big storms that have been coming along that have produced soaking rains, those should be much fewer and further between.”

“And by the time we get to the end of the growing season, it will be a notably better environment.”

Lerner said harvest conditions will likely be much better this year, including a first frost that is later than normal.

“What I see so far is that there is a warmer bias, and a drier bias for the harvest season in September in particular,” he said. “But … all it takes is one day of cool air and you’ve got a frost or freeze.”

However, he said if he is wrong about July being wet and it’s dry instead, then the frost freeze bias will actually swing more to an early occurrence.

“Because the air will be dry when we get into September, and any little cool air mass that comes along will drop temperatures a lot more significantly in the low humidity.”

Contact robin.booker@producer.com

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