Trying to forecast the weather, especially in this part of the world, is probably one of the toughest things to do. Our part of the planet has some of the most active weather and all you have to do is listen to general conversation to hear just about anyone at pretty much anytime “bashing” the forecast. Typically, forecasters are able to do a pretty good job forecasting the weather 24-48 hours out. Beyond that, things start to get a little less reliable. Forecasts three to 10 days out have gotten better over the years and these forecasts now do a half-decent job on general weather patterns, but at times, they can really mess up.
Some scientists argue that we’ll never be able to accurately forecast the weather beyond the one-to three-day range. The atmosphere is just too chaotic, and we simply can’t (or won’t spend the money to) measure the atmosphere accurately enough to be able to model how it will behave. Even though we all know how difficult it is to create long-range forecasts going out a week or two, we all seem to have some strange desire to know what the long-range forecasts are going to be for the next month or next few months or, even better, what the upcoming growing season might be like.
Even though we know the accuracy of long-range forecasts is pretty much a toss of the coin as to whether it will be warm or cold, dry or wet, we just have to know what the different forecasters are calling for. So, let’s peer ahead and see what kind of weather we might expect for the rest of the winter, spring and summer.
CALLING THE COIN TOSS
Let’s start off by looking at the two almanacs. Both of the almanacs use secret formulas to create forecasts that peer 12 months or more into the future and claim to be around 80 per cent accurate. Starting with theOld Farmer’s Almanac,they are calling for a continuation of the near-average temperatures we have seen so far this winter across the Prairies, along with average to above-average amounts of precipitation. They then predict a warm and dry start to spring before temperatures cool down during the latter part of spring. Precipitation across the Prairies will be around average during the spring and the beginning of summer. June, July and August should be around average in the temperature department, with July being dry. All in all, not that bad of a long-range forecast, as long as the latter part of spring isn’t too cool.
TheCanadian Farmers’ Almanacleans toward a cold, snowy end to winter. The cold, snowy weather will then transition into what sounds like an average spring and summer. This long-range forecaster is always the toughest to figure out as it tends to use vague terms such as “stormy weather moves east during the first week of May.” Does that mean we will see lots of rain or just a little bit? Chances are, if it is stormy, then it will be cool – but who knows? For this forecaster I have to do a lot of my own interpretation of what it’s trying to suggest the overall pattern will be.
Next we have good old Environment Canada. It produces long-range weather maps every few months, and because of this it has a more detailed forecast when it comes to the overall coverage of the Prairies. EC currently calls for an average end to winter, with average temperatures and near to slightly above-average amounts of precipitation. Spring is looking like it will be cold and wet. This could result in disaster, considering how wet a number of places were going into winter, and the relatively deep snowpack we have. If we can get through the spring, EC has us warming up to an above-average summer with near-average amounts of precipitation to start the summer, transitioning to a dry pattern over the eastern Prairies and a wet pattern over western regions.
The last long-range forecaster is myself. Typically, there is some general pattern I can hook my hat on to, but this year I have nothing. It looks like we’ll be going into the spring with a moderate to strong La Nińa. How this will impact our spring and summer weather is questionable, as historically, La Nińa doesn’t have large impacts on our weather during this time of year. If I go simply on my gut feeling I think we’ll have a cool, wet spring that will slowly transition into a fairly warm and dry summer. Personally I hope I am wrong about the spring, so here’s to crossing your fingers.
Somescientistsarguethatwe’llneverbe abletoaccuratelyforecasttheweather beyondtheone-tothree-dayrange.