March 7, 2011, State College, Pa. – AccuWeather reports the AccuWeather.com Spring 2011 Forecast for Canada highlights cold, stormy weather for regions from Vancouver and Calgary to Winnipeg, and a wet season for part of the Maritimes.
Temperatures should average out near normal for the populated St. Lawrence Valley, including Quebec City, Montreal and Toronto, with near-normal precipitation. However, southwestern Ontario may be in for a wetter-than-normal spring.
The Canadian Spring Forecast team is led by AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson. He expects the average storm track this spring to run across southern British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest to the northern Plains. A second storm track will extend from the East Coast of the U.S. toward Newfoundland, he added.
With storm systems frequently tracking through these areas, precipitation is expected to be above normal. Precipitation will vary between rain and snow, depending on elevation and temperature.
A colder-than-normal forecast for much of Western Canada and the Prairies would favour more snow than rain events at least through the first half of the season.
According to Anderson, southern Manitoba, Vancouver Island and the Maritimes are the areas of greatest concern for spring flooding.
In contrast, the active storm track over southern British Columbia is expected to lead to a drier-than-normal spring farther north toward Juneau, Alaska.
Drier-than-normal conditions are also expected across much of northern Canada and around Hudson Bay.
Anderson expects the core of cold air this spring to stay focused over British Columbia and the Prairies with temperatures averaging below normal for the season.
On the other side of the country, a milder spring is forecast from Newfoundland and Labrador into the Northwest Passages and Nunavut. Anderson expects temperatures to average above normal in this zone.
In between the mild and cold zones, temperatures will be back and forth, but should average out near normal from Nova Scotia into the St. Lawrence Valley and farther northwest into the Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory.
IMPACTS ON AGRICULTURE
According to AccuWeather.com Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler, the colder- and wetter-than-normal conditions predicted for the Canadian Prairies will likely cause the spring planting season to get off to a slow start, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Mohler explained that the same thing happened last year with a cold, wet spring that continued into summer. “There were pretty big losses there last year.”
The situation this year may improve sooner than last year, Mohler said, but there will still be impacts.
Cold weather will allow snow to stay on the ground longer and inhibit the soil from reaching temperatures suitable for planting. Wet soil will also prevent farmers from getting into the fields.
He added that the growing season in these northern latitudes is relatively short, spanning from late April or May into September. Any setbacks to a growing season that is already relatively short leads to a smaller window of opportunity for crops to reach full potential.
Despite a slow start, Mohler said that the above-normal precipitation may be beneficial to crops on the Prairies in the long run.
The primary crops produced in the Prairies include wheat, canola, oats and barley.
Heather Buchman is a meteorologist for AccuWeather.com.