Canada: Intense water surpluses to persist near Kelowna, BC

19 December 2017


The 12-month outlook for Canada (above) through August 2018 indicates large blocks of exceptional water deficit in eastern Quebec at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River near Sept-Îles; in western Labrador and Newfoundland around Churchill Falls; in New Brunswick and southern Newfoundland; central Quebec and along the Quebec/Ontario border; and on the southeastern and southwestern shores of Hudson Bay.

Severe to extreme deficits are forecast for the Quebec/Ontario border corridor, northwestern Ontario into central Manitoba, central Alberta west of Edmonton and northwestern Alberta, and large pockets in British Columbia surrounding Prince George and in the northwest. 

Surpluses are forecast for central Manitoba west of Lake Winnipeg and into Saskatchewan; in northwestern Saskatchewan around Churchill Lake westward to Ft. McMurray, Alberta; and near Kelowna, Fort St. John, and Hazelton in British Columbia.

Nearly all agricultural land in the Canadian prairies remains in a state of drought despite autumn snow melt in Saskatchewan and Alberta. After a tough growing season in 2017, an agro-climate specialist expressed concern for next year’s forage and pasture fields in southern Saskatchewan, which need rains to occur prior to Spring to recover parched root systems.

Members of the provincial parliament of Ontario proposed a bill that bars insurance companies from capping flood coverage in areas of emergency, expands the Disaster Recovery Assistance Program, and mandates that rain barrels be built on newly-constructed homes. The bill comes months after record rainfall in the southern city of Windsor caused widespread basement flooding in late August. Many residents are still waiting on a backlog to have their properties inspected for a city-wide subsidy program to aid in recovering from that flood.

Flood insurance coverage was made widely available to Canadian homeowners as recently as 2015, but remains difficult to implement. Home insurance brokers are reportedly frustrated over many providers’ confusing provisions for overland flood coverage, threatening to drop providers from brokerage options. One insurance CEO acknowledged the diversity of overland flood insurance options and the resulting confusion, and expressed hope that the market can sort out such issues without federal intervention.

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

While the forecast for Canada remains a patchwork of water anomalies, the most noticeable difference in the near-term forecast – December through February – compared to the prior three months’ observed conditions is the continued emergence of widespread surplus conditions in northeastern Quebec.

Significant deficits are forecast during this period for many areas, including (east to west): western Labrador and Newfoundland, the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, and the southern portion of the Island of Newfoundland; the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, eastern New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; central Quebec surrounding Lake Mistassini and the Ontario/Quebec border corridor; the southeast and southwest shores of Hudson Bay; northwestern Ontario into central Manitoba; southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan; from Calgary, Alberta northeast past Lesser Slave Lake; from Banff into British Columbia; a large pocket in BC surrounding Prince George, and northwest BC.

Surpluses ranging from moderate to exceptional are expected to emerge in much of northeastern Quebec. Surpluses will continue to emerge in a vast pocket of central Ontario and are expected to be exceptional north of the middle stretch of the Albany River in Kenora. Exceptional surpluses are forecast west of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba and into Saskatchewan; in northwest Manitoba; and in a large block surrounding Churchill Lake in Saskatchewan leading west to Ft. McMurray, Alberta, and south along the Beaver River in SK. Surpluses ranging from moderate to extreme are forecast along the central border of Alberta and British Columbia and west past Williston Lake. Exceptional surpluses are forecast around Kelowna, BC.

From March through May aforementioned surpluses in Quebec and Ontario will return to near-normal conditions. Surpluses west of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba are expected to shrink, as will surplus conditions near Churchill Lake in Saskatchewan and across the border into Alberta, though exceptional surpluses may continue to emerge. Widespread surpluses of varying severity are expected across southern British Colombia and surpluses farther north from Hazelton to Fort St. John will increase in extent. Previously described pockets of exceptional deficit across the country are expected to shrink overall, but will persist. And while intense deficits along the corridor of the Ontario/Quebec border will downgrade somewhat in intensity, moderate deficits will emerge in greater extent in the region, reaching from eastern Lake Superior eastward past Montreal.

The forecast for the final three months – June through August – indicates the emergence of widespread moderate to extreme deficits throughout much of the eastern half of the country and surpluses near Ottawa.

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

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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