El Nino winters are usually warmer and drier than usual throughout the Prairies, and the early returns so far this year are spot on.
As can be seen from the two maps below, temperatures across Western Canada trended higher than normal through November. Precipitation was generally mixed, with portions of Saskatchewan and Manitoba getting near normal or above normal amounts, but Alberta especially lacking. It is notable that Alberta also saw the warmest temperatures relative to normal in November.
The current conditions suggest little potential for drought improvement, with the Weather Network’s latest seasonal outlook further confirming the potential for below normal winter precipitation for Alberta and much of Saskatchewan. Normal amounts are expected by the Weather Network for Manitoba.
“A mild winter is expected across the (Prairie) region, especially across Alberta and into Saskatchewan, and a few spots which are accustomed to seeing a white Christmas are at risk to miss out this year,” the Weather Network said. “Below-normal snowfall is also expected across western and central parts of the region. “
Widespread drought in Western Canada slashed the average yields of most crops by about one-third in 2021. That was followed by a mostly better year in 2022 before crops in some Prairie regions – mostly in the southwest - were battered by heat and dryness this past growing season.
Earlier this week, the Saskatchewan government released a less-than-rosy mid-year financial report, which traced some of the province’s woes back to sharply higher-than-expected agricultural expenses related to crop insurance payments.