After a colder-than-average winter across the Prairies that saw mean winter temperatures between 1.5 and 2.5 C below the long-term average, most of us were hoping spring would turn out a little better. Unfortunately, it didn’t; while our spring may have been a wee bit better than our winter, it wasn’t by much.
While the majority of the planet has been experiencing above-average temperatures, it seems like central North America is one of the few cold spots. This colder-than-average weather has now been sticking around since January. Every time it looks like the pattern is going to break and switch to one that would favour warmer-than-average conditions, something comes along to re-establish the cold pattern.
Taking a look back at March, most areas across all three Prairie provinces saw temperatures that averaged from 1 to 2.5 C below average. There were a few exceptions, with the most notable being northern agricultural Alberta that saw near-average temperatures. While March was colder than average, it was also drier than average — something we don’t always see during a cold spring. Southern and central Manitoba were the driest, with most locations reporting only a couple of millimetres of water-equivalent precipitation.
April turned out a little better, with temperatures that were mostly near the long- term average. The warmest region was southern Alberta, where Calgary reported a mean monthly temperature in April that was about 1.5 C above average. The coldest spot, at least compared to average, was also in Alberta. The Peace region reported a mean monthly temperature for April 0.3 C below average. Precipitation continued to be light, with all locations reporting below-average amounts.
Finally, May rolled around and everyone’s fingers were crossed that we would see some heat and rain. Unfortunately, neither of these things happened. Oh, it did continue to warm up, but compared to average, May was nearly as cool as March was. Most locations in each province saw mean monthly temperatures in May that were between 1 and 2 C below average. Once again, just like in March, the Peace region was warmer than average, with a mean monthly temperature coming in about 0.5 C above average. While the cool weather meant a slow start to the growing season, the lack of rainfall was starting to become a bigger concern. All regions reported below-average rainfall in May, with most locations reporting less than 50 per cent of average. Saskatchewan was the driest region, with both Saskatoon and Regina seeing less than 20 per cent of average precipitation amounts.
Who called it?
So, the spring of 2019 can be best summarized as cold and dry. Looking back at the different forecasts or predictions, they were all wrong, as most called for warmer-than-average temperatures along with near- to above-average rainfall. If we had to pick a winner, then the two almanacs were the only ones calling for colder-than-average temperatures, but they also predicted a wetter- than-average spring.
Keeping this in mind, let’s look ahead to see what the various weather models predict for this summer, beginning with the almanacs. The Old Farmer’s Almanac calls for slightly warmer-than-average temperatures in June and July followed by a cooler-than-average August. As for precipitation, June is forecast to see near-average amounts, with both July and August coming in a little above average. The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac calls for a see-saw battle between cool and warm air in June, which usually results in near-average temperatures by the time the month is done. It also looks like June should see near-average amounts of rainfall. Its July forecast appears to call for near- to slightly above-average temperatures as it mentions “warm” and “very warm” a few times along with a couple of cool periods. Precipitation looks to be near average with calls for occasional thunderstorms throughout the month.
Moving on to Environment Canada and the CanSIPS model: it calls for warmer-than-average temperatures across all three Prairie provinces from June through to August, with the best chance of above-average temperatures occurring over western regions. The model shows colder-than-average temperatures persisting over the central U.S. and Ontario, which could mean southern Manitoba will only see near-average temperatures. As for precipitation, it calls for below- to near-average amounts in June, with near- to slightly above-average amounts by August, especially over extreme southern regions.
The CFS model predicts that after a warm start to June, we will see cooler-than-average temperatures move in, followed by a return to above-average temperatures during the last half of the month. This trend continues into July, with northern regions seeing the best chance of above-average temperatures. For August it shows a bit of a cool-down, with only Alberta expected to see above-average temperatures. The rest of the Prairies is forecast to see near- to even slightly below-average temperatures, with the best chance of cooler weather across the south.
Last and probably least, is my attempt: until I see something that causes our current weather pattern to change, I am going to go with the status quo and predict cooler-than-average temperatures this summer along with below-average amounts of rainfall. Now, let’s sit back and watch Mother Nature make us all look bad again!