Canada: Intense water deficits forecast Sherbrooke QC, deficits Kelowna BC

24 October 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month outlook for Canada through June 2018 (below) indicates large blocks of exceptional water deficit in central Quebec, central and northeastern Manitoba into Ontario, central and northwestern Alberta, and surrounding Prince George, British Columbia. 

Exceptional surpluses are forecast for central Manitoba west of Lake Winnipeg and into Saskatchewan, and a large block of northwestern Saskatchewan around Churchill Lake westward past Ft. McMurray, Alberta.

The impact of drought in southern Saskatchewan is reaching all the way to dinner tables in France. Prices are expected to rise for the highly regarded Dijon mustard as a 60 percent decline in rainfall in the southern Prairie Provinces - the world's biggest mustard growing region - significantly reduced crop yields for the little brown seeds used in the grainy condiment. Ballpark franks in the US may look a bit naked, too, as Statistics Canada reports a 50 percent drop in production of all varieties of mustard seed, including the more flamboyant yellow. This season's yield is the smallest in 11 years.

The nearly year-long drought in central and southern Saskatchewan is also causing basements to collapse. Construction firms in Regina can't keep up with service calls as the region's clay-based soil dries out and cracks, causing foundations to sink, a repair not covered by most homeowners insurance.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that late August flooding in Windsor, Ontario resulted in CAN$124 million (US$98 million) in insured damages from sewer backups, basement flooding, and overland water. The Bureau advised property owners to review policies to insure adequate coverage, pointing out that some types of flood damage, though common, are not included in "standard" coverage but are available as "add-on" options.

Manitoba will receive federal funding of CAN$794,520 (US$628,000) for a CAN$1.6 million (US$1.26 million) flood mapping project to improve planning and reduce impacts from flooding in three priority watersheds in the Assiniboine River and Lake Manitoba basins.

This summer was the smokiest ever in Kamloops, southern British Columbia, according to Environment Canada, blaming wildfires that left the city with low visibility - no more than 9.7 kilometers (6 miles) - for 387 hours. A group of Kamloops physicians is asking the province to adjust its Air Quality Health Index to better reflect human sensitivity, citing respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

Pollutants from wildfires can travel thousands of miles. The massive Fort McMurray wildfire in May 2016 carried a toxic brew from Alberta all the way to New England and beyond, creating dangerous ozone levels along the East Coast. This year scientists in Connecticut are keeping a close watch on fires burning in British Columbia.

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

The near-term forecast through December indicates the persistence of exceptional deficits along the northern Ontario-Quebec border and into southern Nord-du-Québec; surrounding Sherbrooke (Quebec); and in New Brunswick. Exceptional deficits will diminish somewhat in Newfoundland but increase in southern Nova Scotia. Extreme to occasionally exceptional deficits will persist in northeastern Manitoba, diminishing slightly in severity across the border into Quebec.

A significant retreat of exceptional deficits is forecast in the Prairie Provinces. Exceptional deficits will emerge in British Columbia surrounding Glacier National Park and into Alberta, and deficits leading north through Alberta will diminish in intensity becoming moderate to severe, as will deficits in central and northern British Columbia.

Surpluses in Southern Ontario north of Kitchener and in Ottawa are expected to retreat, and primarily moderate surpluses are expected to emerge in Northern Ontario from Lake of the Woods through the center of the province. Exceptional surpluses are forecast to persist west of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba and into Saskatchewan, and from Churchill Lake in Saskatchewan past Ft. McMurray, Alberta. Exceptional surpluses are forecast to re-emerge near Kelowna, BC.

From January through March the distribution of water anomalies is expected to be similar to the pattern for October through December, though the intensity of deficits is forecast to diminish overall.

The forecast for the final three months – April through June – indicates a retreat of exceptional surpluses and an overall increase in the extent of deficits.

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

Note on Administrative Boundaries
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.


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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