Summer precipitation totals hide the drought

An Interlake pasture in July.

OUTLOOK | Medium-range weather models hint at cold weather mid-month

For this article we will take a quick look back at August, then a quick look at the summer. I’ll wrap it up by looking at what the latest long-range forecasts call for this fall. I won’t have room to go into detail on this summer’s weather and will have to leave that for another article.

We know August was a cooler month than either June or July, but just how much cooler? We’ll begin our look out west in Alberta, where June and July temperatures were about 2 to 3 C warmer than average. August still came in above average, but only by a little bit. The Calgary region saw temperatures about 0.8 C warmer than average, with both the Edmonton and Peace River regions coming in around 0.5 C above average. All three of these regions saw precipitation amounts right around average.

Moving on to Saskatchewan, August temperatures were a little cooler compared to average than they were in Alberta. Saskatoon reported a mean monthly temperature 0.2 C above the long-term average, while Regina came in 0.3 C below average. The below-average temperatures in Regina were in part due to the cloudy, wet weather as the region reported about 105 mm of rainfall, 60 mm above the average for the month. The Saskatoon region was much drier — thus a little warmer — as it reported about 38 mm, a few millimetres below average precipitation.

In Manitoba the cool and wet weather Regina saw in August impacted all three regions. The Winnipeg region was the only area that saw above-average temperatures, but only slightly, reporting a mean monthly temperature 0.2 C above average. Both the Brandon and Dauphin regions reported mean monthly temperatures about 0.5 C below average. The cool weather was accompanied by significant rainfall, with all three regions reporting well-above-average rainfall.

Who called it?

Overall, August saw near to slightly above-average temperatures across the Prairies with near- to above-average rainfall. Looking back at the different forecasts, I would have to give the win to the CFS weather model.

Now, let’s take a look at the summer across Manitoba. The cool and wet August was not enough to put a damper on the hot, dry weather experienced across most areas in June and July. The mean summer temperature in the Winnipeg region was nearly 2 C above average, with the rainfall total for summer coming in at 179 mm, around 55 mm below average. This rainfall deficit does not seem like much, but before the August rains, the Winnipeg region had only reported 55 mm of rainfall in both June and July, which was 110 mm below average. Both the Brandon and Dauphin regions had mean summer temperatures about 1.5 C above average, and both regions saw more rainfall compared to the Winnipeg region. Dauphin’s summer precipitation total was 190 mm, about 25 mm below average. Brandon was once again the wet spot during the summer, with a total of 292 mm, or 72 mm above average.

To our west, the Regina region had a summer very similar to western Manitoba’s. Central Saskatchewan and Alberta saw similar summer temperatures compared to average, with most areas reporting a mean summer temperature between 1.5 and 2.0 C above average. Rainfall across this region was below average, with amounts coming in between 60 and 90 mm below long-term summer averages in most regions.

Now, on to the fall weather predictions. As usual, I’ll begin with the two almanacs. The Old Farmer’s Almanac calls for both September and October to be warm and dry. Its November forecast is not available yet. The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac seems to call for near-average temperatures in September along with above-average precipitation, as it mentions fair and pleasant weather but also a period of wet weather. Its October forecast looks to be calling for near-average temperatures and precipitation as it mentions fair weather often along with a couple of chances for rain. Its November forecast appears to call for near- to below-average temperatures and above-average precipitation, with plenty of unsettled and stormy weather.

Now, the computer models. Starting with NOAA, it calls for near-average temperatures and precipitation this fall, with southern Manitoba having a chance of seeing slightly above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation. Next up, the CFS model currently calls for above-average temperatures in September and October with temperatures cooling toward average in November. Its precipitation forecast is for near- to below-average amounts in September and November, with near-average amounts over western regions in October, but above-average amounts elsewhere. Moving on to the CanSIPS weather model, it calls for near- to slightly below-average temperatures in September and above average in October and November. Precipitation is forecast to be above average across the eastern Prairies in September with near-average amounts over western regions. October and November are forecasted to see near-average amounts.

Lastly is my feeling on the subject. For this extended forecast I am leaning toward the CanSIPS model, mostly due to its forecast of below-average temperatures in September as the latest medium-range weather models hint at some cold weather moving in around the middle of the month. I also think we will later see a return of the warm pattern we saw in June and July. As usual, time will tell which forecast is the best.

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About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte

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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