Canada: Widespread water deficits forecast in QC, surpluses southern BC, AB

26 April 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month outlook for Canada through December 2017 (below) indicates deficits throughout Quebec, with exceptional deficits across the center of the province, along the border into Ontario, and in northeastern Manitoba along Hudson Bay.

Moderate to exceptional deficits are forecast New Brunswick 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 pockets in southeastern British Columbia.

Over 200 municipalities in Canada were designated for the Livestock Tax Deferral Provision for 2016 due to drought, including 106 in Ontario, 70 in Quebec, 18 in Alberta, 9 in Nova Scotia, and 4 in British Columbia. The provision allows farmers who sell part of their breeding herd due to drought or flood to defer a portion of sale proceeds to the following year.

Crops as well as livestock were affected by the drought in Ontario. Statistics Canada reports that 2016's corn yields in Eastern Ontario - 147.2 bushels per acre - were the lowest since the 2012 drought. Yields for Central Ontario were even worse at 117.5 bushels per acre. Overall, Ontario's 2016 corn yields fell slightly below the 5-year average.

The Gatineau and Ottawa Rivers in Quebec overflowed in late April after heavy rains and snow melt. Flooding in Rigeau west of Montreal, where over 400 families were advised to evacuate, was described by the province's Public Security Minister as the worst in the region since 1998. Three municipalities - Rigeau, Pontiac, and Saint-André-Avellin - declared a state of emergency. In Hamilton, Ontario south of Toronto flooding and mudslides were reported and more rain fell in 12 hours than the entire month's average for April; and, more in April on one day since record-keeping began in 1866. Floodwaters covered roadways, blocked storm drains, and cut off the Canada Pacific rail line.

The mayor of Kenora in Northwestern Ontario estimates that it will cost the city CAN$291,279 (US$214,265) to repair roads damaged in last summer's flooding, money which will be coming out of the city's contingency reserves.

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

The forecast for April through June shows the persistence of exceptional deficits in central Quebec and along the border into Ontario. Deficits of varying intensity are expected to emerge throughout much of the remaining areas of Quebec, and the extent of exceptional deficits in northeastern Manitoba on Hudson Bay is expected to increase. Deficits in northwestern Alberta and in the Upper Athabasca River watershed in central Alberta will increase in both severity and extent, reaching exceptional severity. Moderate to occasionally exceptional deficits will persist in northwestern British Colombia and exceptional deficits will emerge in greater extent in central BC in a large pocket surrounding Prince George.

Exceptional surpluses are forecast for: a large block in Manitoba between Southern Indian Lake and Split Lake; further south between the northwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg across the border into Saskatchewan; a large block in northwestern Saskatchewan between Lake Athabasca and Churchill Lake and across the border to Ft. McMurray, Alberta; and southeastern British Columbia into southern Saskatchewan.

As seen in the July through September map exceptional deficits are forecast to persist across central Quebec and across the border into Ontario, and in northeastern Manitoba along Hudson Bay. Deficits of varying severity will continue to emerge throughout Quebec and primarily moderate deficits will emerge in much of Ontario. Deficits of varying severity are forecast for northern British Columbia. Severe deficits are forecast along the Peace River in Alberta and into British Columbia. Aforementioned surpluses in southern British Columbia, northern Saskatchewan, and central Manitoba are forecast to diminish in extent, transitioning in some areas to conditions of both deficit and surplus. However, pockets of exceptional surplus will persist in Saskatchewan surrounding Churchill Lake and in Manitoba northwest of Lake Winnipeg.

After September the forecast indicates nearly normal conditions in Quebec and primarily modest deficits elsewhere.

(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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