Canada: Water deficits persist in central Quebec, QC/ON border

17 March 2017

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

Moderate to exceptional deficits are forecast along the Ontario-Quebec border, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and central and northwestern regions of Alberta and British Columbia. Surpluses are forecast for central Manitoba west of Lake Winnipeg; a large block of northwestern Saskatchewan into Alberta; and small pockets in southeastern British Columbia.

British Columbia will invest $10.5 million (US$7.86 million) in dike and pump upgrades in the Fraser River's Nicomen Island 35-kilometer system of dikes, and $10 million (US$7.48 million) in Abbotsford to protect the Matsqui floodplain as part of a recent emergency preparedness funding of over $80 million (US$59.85 million) of which $60 million (US$44.86 million) is earmarked for flood mitigation.

Canada's National Research Council will begin updating model building codes to reflect a changing climate with more floods, temperature swings and extreme weather. A report from the University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation indicated that Canada is under-prepared for increased flooding, and Natural Resources Canada has warned that warming temperatures will significantly increase incidences of large fires by the end of the century. Last spring's Fort McMurray fire in Alberta resulted in $3.5 billion (US$2.62 billion) in insured losses, the largest such loss in Canadian history. 

With temperatures in the Arctic increasing at twice the global rate, researchers at Northwest Territories Geological Survey have found that permafrost thaw is affecting 52,000 square miles of northwest Canada, releasing carbon-rich mud into waterways.

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

The forecast for March through May indicates that exceptional deficits in central Quebec will persist, though diminish somewhat in extent. Exceptional deficits are also forecast to persist along the southern border of Ontario and Quebec in the Ottawa River watershed to Lake Ontario; in Northumberland County, New Brunswick; in southern Newfoundland; and in northeastern Manitoba along Hudson Bay. Severe deficits in central Alberta in the Upper Athabasca River watershed are forecast to increase in intensity, becoming exceptional. Severe to exceptional deficits are forecast for northwestern British Columbia and central BC near Prince George.

Surpluses are forecast for: central Manitoba west of Lake Winnipeg and across the border into Saskatchewan; a large block south of Lake Athabasca in northwestern Saskatchewan and across the border of Alberta to Ft. McMurray; and throughout southern British Columbia.

The forecast for June through August indicates an increase in the extent and severity of deficits, particularly in Quebec where exceptional deficits are expected to span the center of the province, with deficits of varying severity elsewhere. Exceptional deficits will continue to emerge in northeastern Manitoba, increasing in extent. Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast throughout much of Ontario and the northern two-thirds of Alberta and British Columbia, though exceptional deficits forecast in prior months in central Alberta are expected to downgrade to moderate. Prior deficits in southern Newfoundland and New Brunswick are expected to nearly disappear during this period.

Surpluses are expected to persist in northwestern Saskatchewan into Alberta, though the extent of exceptional surpluses will diminish, and surpluses west of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba will recede. A pocket of surplus is forecast to emerge northwest of Ottawa along the Quebec-Ontario border.

After August the forecast indicates 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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