It seems like pretty much all of the Canadian Prairies are experiencing one of the coolest springs in a while, and after some of the springs we have seen over the last 10 or so years, that’s saying a lot.
From Alberta all the way to Manitoba, temperatures so far this spring have been – well – cold! If we look at the monthly average temperatures for March, April, and so far this May, we would see that temperatures have been running as much as 6C below average in some places. Overall though, temperatures have been about 2C below average in most places in Alberta.
Spring started off wet across much of the Prairies with precipitation nearly double the long-term average in several places during March. While the wet weather continued over the eastern parts of the Prairies in April, over Alberta April saw the flow of moisture cut off with a large portion of the province seeing only light precipitation. This continued up to the middle of May, with only a few millimetres of rainfall recorded up to the 15th of the month.
I think what is making this poor spring weather particularly difficult to accept is the fact that, for most regions, May looks like it will be the sixth month in a row with below-average temperatures. The last time we saw such a long period of below-average temperatures was back in spring and summer of 2004. Now, I’m not saying that we are going to end up having a repeat of 2004, when temperatures where below average for pretty much the whole summer and conditions, to say the least, were wet.
SIGNS OF CHANGE?
In fact, there are a few things going in our favour that make me think that we just might have a nice summer this year.
First of all, the weather pattern giving us this cool weather is not the same one that brought us the bad weather in 2004, when we had a huge pool of cold air sitting over Hudson Bay which continually pumped down cool damp air. This year we have a very active long-wave pattern which is generating storm system after storm system. Each time a system approaches we see a brief warmup, and then we either get hit by the system which brings precipitation and cool weather, or the system just misses us, but we still end up with clouds and cooler weather. Then finally, the system pulls away only to open the door for the cold air to slide southwards giving us several days of below-average temperatures – then the whole cycle repeats itself.
So this is one difference between our current weather pattern and that of 2004. The second main difference is the timing of our current long-term cool spell. Our current spell of below-average temperatures actually started way back in December, and it has been cooler than average ever since. Looking back over the years it is not very often that you find more than six months in a row with below-average temperatures. So from a climatological point of view we are due for change in the weather pattern from that of a colder-than-average pattern to that of a warmer-than-average pattern.
Maybe I am just being too much of an optimist, but let’s take a look at what our other long-range forecasters are predicting for the upcoming summer and see if they agree with my prediction that we will be switching to above-average temperatures very soon.
Over at Environment Canada they must be thinking the same way I am. Their current long-range forecasts are calling for a hot, dry summer across nearly all of Canada, never mind just Alberta. Over at the Old Farmers Almanac they are not quite as optimistic. Their long range forecast is calling for near-to slightly below-average temperatures all summer long with a wet start in June and then a dry end to summer in August.
Over at the Canadian Farmers Almanac they seem to be calling for a perfect summer, with near-average temperatures and precipitation.
Finally, as I pointed out earlier, this cold spell just can last much longer, so I am going to say we will see above-average temperatures this summer along with near-average amounts of rainfall. I just hope that in three or four months I’m not eating my words and talking about the year without a summer!