If you’re looking for a crystal ball to predict the weather for the coming year, steer clear of whatever brand Environment Canada is using.
“In October or November, it does its forecast of what the winter’s going to be like, and for three years in a row now, it has been diametrically 180 degrees opposite of what actually happened,” said Harry Brook, a crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.
“It was saying two or three years ago, ‘Oh, she’s going to be a snowier- and colder-than-average winter,’ and it was a warmer- and drier-than-average winter. Last year, it was supposed to be warmer and drier, and it was colder and snowier.”
Brook doesn’t claim to be a weather forecaster, but a few things have caught his attention.
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“The last four springs, we’ve had relatively cool, wet conditions. I’m wondering if this is a trend. Or is it an aberration?
“If it is a trend, once again we’re going to have difficulty getting into the field on time.”
Rainfall patterns are odd, too.
“I’ve noticed there’s a trend that we get our moisture early in the season and then by July, the taps turn off and there’s very little moisture after that,” he said. “We tend to go into the fall with relatively dry conditions in our soil, which doesn’t bode well for the spring.”
So does Brook think we’re in for another cool, wet spring and midsummer dry spell?
He’s not taking that bait.
“You hang around Alberta long enough, you start to realize that nobody’s got a bloody clue what’s happening,” he replied.
So what can producers do to deal with the weather?
“Weather being what it is — unpredictable — it means producers have to be flexible,” he said.
“It’s a different game every year. One year, you could be droughted out and the next year you could be flooded.
“Farming is certainly not for the faint of heart.”