Manitoba storm may cause more than travel delays

CNS Canada –– Road closures across most of western Manitoba due to a late-winter storm are likely only the start of the headaches to come, as flooding and/or late seeding may be a reality in many areas this spring.

Meteorologist Drew Lerner of World Weather Inc. in Kansas City said he was optimistic on moisture conditions earlier in the winter, “but this storm today (March 7) is just too much.”

Southeastern Manitoba was likely still in good shape, he said, but the western parts of the province and into southeastern Saskatchewan would be dealing with either flooding or late seeding this spring.

“The bottom line is that we need no precipitation, absolutely none whatsoever… But the odds of us going through the next several weeks without any more rain or snow are ridiculously low,” said Lerner.

While he wasn’t anticipating above-average precipitation for the region heading into the spring, soils are already saturated, he added.

Looking ahead, he saw two potential scenarios playing out, both less than ideal. On the one hand, a quick melt would get it over with, but the resulting flooding could cause damage.

On the other hand, a slower snowmelt would reduce the flooding potential, but also push back seeding and possibly lead to unseeded acres. Lerner said the second scenario was more likely, based off of his forecasts.

“We’ll go back and forth between warm and cool,” said Lerner, noting that while that would be good from a flood perspective, “it won’t be good for getting the process over and done with so we can get back in the fields.”

Outside of Manitoba, most of the Prairies are in much better shape heading into the spring, said Lerner.

However, he said, snowfall in the forecasts for parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan over the next few weeks will likely cause delays in getting the last of the 2016 crop that was left to overwinter harvested.

Any delays cleaning up the unharvested acres would also tighten the window for getting the 2017 crops in the ground.

“I’m sure it will work out better than it looks, it always does, but it just doesn’t look very good right now,” said Lerner.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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