Canada: Water deficits persist in Quebec

19 December 2016

The Big Picture
The outlook for Canada through August 2017 (below) indicates exceptional water deficits across the center of Quebec, southern Newfoundland, northeastern Manitoba, and along the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. Deficits of varying severity are forecast for northern British Columbia, central Alberta, along the shared borders of Ontario and Quebec, New Brunswick, and southern Nova Scotia. Surpluses are forecast for Ontario’s southwestern corner, the central shared border region of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, northwestern Saskatchewan, and southern British Columbia.

Livestock producers in drought-designated regions of Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec have received a reprieve from the federal government in the form of a tax deferral on a portion of their 2016 sale proceeds of breeding livestock. The drought significantly reduced forage, forcing producers to sell all or part of their breeding stock. The deferral of 2016 income will offset the cost of replacing the animals in 2017.

Cattle ranchers near The Pas in west-central Manitoba faced the opposite problem in November – flooding that left entire herds stranded. Feed quality was compromised and pumps were operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, prompting plans for stock relocation and, in some instances, causing friction over pumping practices. 

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in more detail.

Overall, the December through February forecast indicates that the extent of exceptional deficits in the center of Quebec will shrink, though a vast expanse will remain surrounding Lake Mistassini. Exceptional deficits will also persist in: southern Newfoundland; Northumberland County, New Brunswick; in Ontario from Lake Abitibi south to Peterborough; northeastern Manitoba; and northern British Columbia.

Surpluses are forecast across Ontario from Kenora District in the west to the border of Quebec south of James Bay, and may reach exceptional severity in many places. Exceptional surpluses are also forecast in: Manitoba from the Nelson River near Hudson Bay reaching west and southwest to Lake Winnipeg; surrounding Churchill Lake in northwestern Saskatchewan; and in the Columbia River Basin in southern British Columbia. Surpluses will also emerge along the Saskatchewan River and its southern branch.

The forecast for March through May indicates a transition from surplus to moderate deficits in Ontario from Kenora District in the west to the Quebec border in the east; and into Southern Ontario with pockets of extreme to exceptional deficits tracing the southern border between Quebec and Ontario. The extent of exceptional deficits in central Quebec will diminish but exceptional deficits will persist to the northeast and southwest of Lake Mistassini. Exceptional deficits will also persist in eastern New Brunswick and severe deficits will emerge throughout the rest of the province. Exceptional surpluses will persist west of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. Surpluses in southern British Columbia will become less severe, and surpluses will continue to emerge in the Peace River District.

After May the forecast indicates the emergence of primarily moderate deficits throughout the country, with greatest extent and severity in Quebec.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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