Canada: Water deficits persist on QC/ON border; increase nationwide after April

24 February 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month outlook for Canada through October 2017 (below) indicates exceptional water deficits across the center of Quebec, southern Newfoundland, and northeastern Manitoba along Hudson Bay.

Moderate to isolated pockets of exceptional deficits are forecast along the border of Ontario and Quebec, and in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and central and northern British Columbia. Surpluses are forecast for the central border region of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, northwestern Saskatchewan, and scattered throughout southern British Columbia.

A seven-month drought advisory has been lifted in the Quinte region of Southern Ontario, though officials at the Lower Trent Conservation stress that groundwater levels have not returned to normal in the watershed. 

Saskatchewan's agricultural minister has announced that crop insurance rates will rise by around 8.5 percent in 2017, translating into premiums of $8.51 (US$6.50) per acre, up from $7.84 (US$5.98) in 2016. Coverage will increase from $216 (US$165) to $217 (US$166) per acre. The total budget for 2017 crop insurance programming will also see an increase - to nearly $720 million (US$550 million). The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Company expects payouts for 2016 to reach $650 million (US$496 million).

Winnipeg, Manitoba had its snowiest December in 100 years says Environment Canada, the federal weather agency, and it came with a hefty price tag. In December the city recorded 68.8 centimeters (27 inches) of snow compared to a 30-year average of 23 centimeters (9 inches). Before the record snowfall Winnipeg was projected to have a surplus in annual snow removal expenditures but ended the year $11.8 million (US$8.6 million) over budget with the final 2016 figure at $44.8 million (US$34 million).

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

The forecast for February through April indicates that exceptional deficits in central Quebec will persist, though diminish in extent. Exceptional deficits are also forecast to persist along the southern border between Ontario and Quebec south to Lake Ontario; Northumberland County, New Brunswick; southern Newfoundland, and northeastern Manitoba along Hudson Bay. Severe to exceptional deficits are forecast for: northwestern British Columbia and central BC near Prince George; northwestern and central Alberta; northeastern Saskatchewan into northern Manitoba; and northwestern Ontario.

Surpluses are forecast February through April around the southern shore of James Bay and west into Ontario, which will range from moderate to exceptional. Exceptional surpluses are also forecast west of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba and along the central border between Saskatchewan and Manitoba; surrounding Lake Churchill in northwestern Saskatchewan and across the border into Alberta; and scattered throughout southern British Columbia along with surpluses of lesser intensity.  

The forecast for May through July indicates a transition to predominantly deficit conditions across much of the country. Widespread deficits from moderate to exceptional are expected to emerge throughout Quebec, Ontario, and the northern two-thirds of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. The extent of exceptional deficits in northwest Manitoba will increase. Deficits in southern Newfoundland and in Northumberland County, New Brunswick are forecast to become less intense, from exceptional to moderate or severe. However, the extent of deficits in New Brunswick will increase. Surpluses will persist west of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba and surrounding Lake Churchill in northwestern Saskatchewan reaching across the border into Alberta.

After July the forecast indicates the persistence of deficits across much of the country though the extent of exceptional deficits will decrease considerably.

(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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