Canada: Water surplus in southern ON to persist through September

25 July 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month outlook for Canada through March 2018 (below) indicates exceptional deficits in a wide band through the center of Quebec, in eastern Ontario, and in northeastern Manitoba along Hudson Bay.  Moderate to exceptional deficits are forecast in central and northwestern regions of Alberta and British Columbia, and southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Exceptional surpluses are forecast for central Manitoba west of Lake Winnipeg; a large block of northwestern Saskatchewan into Alberta; along the central border of Alberta and British Columbia, and in southeastern BC.

Canada Drought Monitor reports that as of the end of June, Saskatchewan from Regina south was in severe drought. Topsoil moisture conditions for both cropland and hay and pasture were running very short in the south well into mid-July and conditions continue to decline due to high temperatures and lack of rainfall. Hay will be in short supply in some areas as yields are expected to be below average. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reports that livestock feed shortages due to drought are expected to be moderate to severe. Saskatchewan farmers say the drought is the worst they've seen in decades, resulting in the death of 200 cattle.

The city of Toronto estimates that losses due to spring flooding of Toronto Island Park could total CAD$4.88 million (US$3.84 million), but exact figures won't be possible until floodwaters fully recede. Damage assessments in nearby Hamilton on Lake Ontario are running between CAN$4.5-$6.8 million (US$3.6-$5.4 million), though that does not include repair of some areas that remain underwater, the cost of which could exceed CAN$1 million (US$0.8 million).

Officials from the Canadian federal government, provincial Ontario government, and the city of Toronto announced a long-term project, Waterfront Toronto, totaling CAN$1.185 billion (US$9.48 billion) to protect Toronto's Port Lands from flooding and transform the area into a "resilient downtown neighbourhood." 

Wildfires in British Columbia, fueled by dry conditions and high winds, have forced nearly 40,000 people from their homes, including the entire city of Williams Lake, population 10,000. More than 160 fires burned northeast of Vancouver near Kamloops, the largest of which, the Ashcroft Reserve fire, covered 42,000 hectares. The province has spent CAN$90 million (US$72 million) fighting fires this season and has approved CAN$100 million (US$80 million) in emergency funds.

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

The near-term forecast – July through September – indicates the persistence of extreme to exceptional water deficits in central Quebec, eastern Ontario, northeastern Manitoba, and northern Alberta and British Columbia. Exceptional surpluses will persist in Manitoba west of Lake Winnipeg, from northwestern Saskatchewan into Alberta, and in southern Ontario west of Toronto. In general, conditions are expected to become less extreme with longer lead times (October through March), with near normal conditions for much of Ontario and Quebec.

However moderate drought conditions are expected to persist in northern British Columbia, northern Manitoba, and northwest Ontario. Pockets of exceptional surplus will persist in central Manitoba west of Lake Winnipeg; northwestern Saskatchewan into Alberta; and southeastern British Columbia.

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

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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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