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A detailed look at Prairie heat and rainfall

It has been hot and dry across much of the region, but there’s variation within that trend

There have been more and more news stories coming out about the hot and dry conditions across the Prairies so far this summer, especially across Alberta and Saskatchewan. I figured we should take a little time to look at what has been happening weather-wise across the agricultural Prairies to see just what’s been going on.

I took a look at the monthly data for the major centres across the Prairies in regards to temperatures and precipitation over the last three months. Below are the results. I have ranked or ordered the results in several different ways.

The first table below on the left is ranked by overall mean or average temperatures during May, June, and July. Looking at the table you can see that overall, Saskatchewan was the warmest, followed by Manitoba and then Alberta.

The second table on the right (see above) reorders our locations, based on how much each site’s average temperature differed or deviated from the long-term average temperature for that location. Looking at this table we see that Alberta is now the warmest region, with Saskatchewan coming in second and Manitoba last.

The third table below on the left looks at precipitation and I have ordered the data by the total amount of precipitation that fell at each location. Looking at the data you can see that the regions that saw the most rainfall were the more northern regions of the agricultural Prairies, with southern Alberta and southern and central Saskatchewan seeing the least precipitation.

Reordering the data on the right (see above) to show rankings comparing total precipitation to the long-term average for each location, or how much each station differed from their respective average, you can see that Regina has been remarkably dry compared to average, with a deficit of 137.5 mm of rain. Calgary also comes in very dry compared to the long-term average. The order then changes up a little bit with both Brandon and Winnipeg, which were higher on the list of total rainfall, now coming in as the next driest compared to average.

Hopefully this helps to shed a little bit of light on what has been going on weather-wise across the Prairies over the last few months. I also hope that looking at the data in a couple of different ways helps to put things into perspective. Regina, no matter how you look at it, has had a hot and dry last three months. Calgary, while dry, was not that warm overall, but compared to average it was the warmest region on the Prairies. So, when it comes to weather, pretty much everything is relative. What is warm in one place can be downright hot in another.

About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park.

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