The weather outlook for this summer: much the same as last year.
Dry conditions currently prevailing in the western Prairies could ease later this spring, giving way to timely rains and a cool summer, a U. S. weather analyst said during last week’s annual Grain World conference in Winnipeg.
That would be similar to the summer of 2009, which was one of the coldest on record in Western Canada.
Drew Lerner, president of World Weather Inc. based in Kansas City, said he didn’t expect this year’s weather will be as unseasonably cool as last year, which saw belownormal temperatures for nine of the 12 months.
But a weakening El Nińo weather phenomenon later this spring could see a repeat of below-average temperatures during the 2010 growing season, Lerner said.
He predicted “a very similar pattern but not quite as extreme” as 2009.
Lerner also expected the western Prairies to get out of the “dry bias” they’re currently in.
Parts of Western Canada, particularly central Alberta and western Saskatchewan, are experiencing extremely dry conditions, despite some early-winter snowfall. On-farm water supplies in those regions are at their lowest level since 2002, which was a record drought year, Lerner told Grain World delegates.
El Nińo plays a role by producing atmospheric high-pressure ridges over the western Prairies and suppressing precipitation, he said.
There’s already a serious concern about a dry start to spring seeding on the Prairies, especially farther west.
But Lerner said he foresaw timely rains returning to the region as El Nińo weakens.
“Once we get beyond early spring, down into late May and June, I think the odds are very good that we will see timely rainfall evolve,” he said following his presentation.
“I really don’t think it’s going to be a bad growing year. But I think there’s going to be a lot of worry in the first weeks of planting season in the West.”
Lerner’s forecast for Western Canada is not far off a weather outlook from the Canadian Wheat Board given in early January.
Bruce Burnett, CWB director of weather and market analysis, predicted belownormal temperatures and above-normal precipitation later in spring and perhaps into early summer.