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Mild winter could spell trouble for farmers

Posted on November 19, 2015 by Maple Creek

By Megan Roth
Thanks to what is being touted as the strongest El Nino event recorded, all of Saskatchewan is expected to have a mild and rather dry winter.
Or at least part of the winter.
If the El Nino event hits its peak during late autumn or early winter, like it appears to be doing, then meteorologists are predicting part of the 2015-2016 winter will be mild and dry but may move into a normal cold, snowy and wet winter in January or February.
Which is exactly what farmers in the Southwest are hoping for.
Norm Hall, president of APAS, said the crops produced this year were thanks to excess ground water from previous years.
“If the timing of the rain stays the same (as this year) with nothing falling in May, June and part of July, we could be in a disastrous situation,” Hall said.
The Maple Creek area experienced less rainfall this summer than the year before.
In May, Maple Creek saw a tiny amount of precipitation, receiving only 7.9 mm of rain in that month.
June saw more, 37 mm, but still less than the historical average of 76.5 mm.
Environment Canada estimates Maple Creek and surrounding area received 216.8 mm of precipitation between April and October of this year.
That is a difference of 92.9 mm when compared to the 309.7 mm of rain received over the same period of time in 2014.
The historical average for the area is 298.1 mm of precipitation during the summer months, between April and October.
This year the area did not receive any major rainfalls until late in July, and without any or little melt next spring farmers could be looking at problems producing next year’s crops.
Meteorologists expect the Prairies will have few significant snow falls this winter and they will not be happening all at once.
This is thanks, in part, to what is being called “the blob,” a large body of abnormally warm water that stretches along the west coast from Alaska to Baja Cal, Mexico.
The warm waters bring warmer winds which push the colder winds out, in this case, east.
It is possible that even with an El Nino, Saskatchewan could see average or more than average snow fall this winter.
In the past, Saskatchewan has seen more snow during an El Nino event. It doesn’t always happened but it is a possibility.
In August the Farmer’s Almanac published their 2016 out look, which predicts a normal winter for the Prairies.
It’s prediction states a cold, wet and snowy winter is in store for Saskatchewan and the Canadian prairies.
The almanac does not republish or change their book after the initial publication and stands by its claim to be 80-85 per cent accurate.
It is hard to say what will happen as long term forecasting is a difficult and ever-changing occupation.
If the Farmer’s Almanac is to be believed, then farmers in the Maple Creek area shouldn’t have too hard of a time as long as rains come in the spring.

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