AccuWeather – The summer months may be ‘a tale of two seasons’ across the Canadian Prairies and the southern Canadian Rockies with one area expecting warm and rainy days, while heat and drought conditions will worsen in another zone, according to a seasonal forecast from AccuWeather.
The team, led by AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson, released its annual summer forecast for the country on May 20, warning that building heat could worsen drought conditions and increase the risk of wildfires for some regions this summer.
Above-normal temperatures and very little rainfall are expected in the northern Plains of the United States, and that same pattern is expected to extend into southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
According to Anderson, thunderstorm activity is expected to be lower than normal in the southern Canadian Rockies compared to typical summers.
This can be disastrous for an area already dealing with severe drought conditions.
“Ongoing severe to extreme drought from southern Saskatchewan to southern Manitoba is likely to expand and get worse into the summer with the potential for low agricultural yields and added stress on livestock,” warned Anderson.
He added that water-use restrictions and low river and stream levels will likely be issues through much of the summer.
The worsening drought conditions can feed the heat in the southern Prairies, leading to an abnormally high number of days above 30 degrees Celsius.
This would be significantly warmer than normal for cities such as Calgary, Edmonton and Regina, which typically have temperatures ranging from 18 to 24 Celsius).
“With a dry ground, most of the sun’s energy will go directly into heating the surface rather than evaporating water,” said Anderson.
The factors listed above in combination with an abundance of dried or even dead vegetation will increase the risk for a bad fire season from the Rockies to the Prairies, Anderson warned, noting that this season could be worse than the fire seasons of recent years.
Most of the thunderstorms that develop this summer are expected to remain well north, traversing the northern portion of the Prairies. The storms expected to keep cool and wet conditions in northern British Columbia will mainly take due easterly tracks.
While this can bring some much-needed precipitation to the area, Anderson cautioned that lightning strikes could start fires in these areas that have been dry throughout the spring.
Residents living in northeastern Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, already dealt with a wildfire after evacuation orders were issued on May 19. States of emergency were declared due to widespread power outages, according to a local media source.