Lack of snow in southern Alberta causing drought concerns for spring

Calgary and much of southern Alberta has been blissfully coasting through the first half of winter and the pleasant weather is likely to continue thanks to the El Niño trend.

The El Niño trend is when warm Pacific waters influence weather patterns across North America and typically bring Alberta dry, warm conditions.

Typical wintertime El Niño pattern across North America.

The El Niño is only just getting started and if it strengthens, Alberta could see the effects lasting well into the spring.

While this may sound terrific, it could have some serious impacts on farmers across the Prairies.

The Canadian Drought Monitor shows southern Alberta abnormally dry and some regions in a moderate drought.

“I think we could wind up having one of the hottest summers,” said Mary-Ellen Tyler, a professor with the University of Calgary’s faculty of environmental design who researches ecological restoration and environmental management.

“That will exacerbate any precipitation we have because those temperatures usually come with very high evapotranspiration or drying rates in Alberta, so I’m thinking we’re still in a moderate drought situation”

This isn’t only a concern for farmers and their crops, the lack of moisture may also bring another active wildfire season.

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It’s difficult to forecast exactly how long the El Niño will persist because other global weather patterns can also have a big influence on conditions we’re seeing in Alberta.

Although many Albertans have been enjoying the mild start to winter, the southern portion of the province is in need of significant snowfall to get soil conditions back on track.

To stay updated with radar and weather alerts in your area, download the Global News Skytracker weather app for iPhone, iPad or Android.

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