Spring expected to start on time

From snow squalls in Eastern Canada to a deep freeze in the West, “good, old-fashioned February weather” will continue into March, says a meteorologist.

“We’re coming out of a month where Western Canada has just been especially cold, just fierce cold. Really, some of the coldest air we’ve seen anywhere around the globe has been in Western Canada and the month of February,” said Michael Carter of the Weather Network.

In its recent spring forecast for March, April and May, the organization said the recent cold pattern throughout the Prairies will continue.

“For folks that are tired of it, unfortunately we do have at least a couple more weeks of this cold to endure as we go past February into March,” he said.

“They call it arctic outflow where the cold air kind of seeps through the mountains and spills out all the way to the Pacific coast.”

However, the good news is arctic air is expected to back off in a few weeks while an El Nino, Pacific influence takes over from mid-March through April, bringing with it warm, moist air and milder temperatures.

“Our official forecast maps for the spring, for the three month period, we are expecting Western Canada to be largely above normal in terms of temperatures for the spring,” he said.

“Spring’s going to be starting off basically right on time as we trend above normal for temperatures in March and April.”

He said many northern areas have received abundant snow this winter, while southern parts of the Prairies have once again received below normal snowfall.

“Obviously we’ve had a couple of dry planting seasons the last couple of years, so if we have below normal snowfall, then we might be going into the planting season with kind of below normal soil moisture,” he said.

Precipitation is forecast to be near normal this spring for much of the Prairies but a repeat of last year for some of the drier southern regions.

“We’re expecting to see our storm track really kind of shifting to the north up towards northern B.C. and up towards the Territories as opposed to having the main kind of fire hose of moisture aimed more towards the south. So if there is any area of the country that might go a bit dry in the upcoming spring, it probably is southern Prairies,” he said.

A belt of dry conditions could stretch across the southern tier of the Prairies, following the Trans-Canada Highway from the Lethbridge area east toward Regina and Winnipeg.

“A lack of storms and you couple that with the lack of snow pack that we’ve had and we could have some concerns about some drier conditions developing there,” he said.

“So it might be a bit of a repeat of what folks saw last year.”

A deep frost line coupled with pockets of thick snow in some areas will produce the typical spring floods, but it is generally less of a concern this spring because of the below normal snow cover.

“We’re watching the snow cover, watching the melt, and we’re going to see exactly how that develops, but certainly that’s going to play a role as well,” he said.

“Beyond that, we’re just going to be watching for those individual storm systems, the timing of individual low pressures and arctic air masses to see how the temperatures play out from day to day.”

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