CANADA: WATER SURPLUS CONTINUES IN SOUTHERN BC, DEFICIT ON ON/QC BORDER

22 March 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month outlook for Canada through November 2018 (below) indicates water deficits throughout much of the eastern half of the country.

Deficits are expected to be intense in eastern Newfoundland; eastern New Brunswick; western Labrador around Churchill Falls; eastern Quebec at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River near Sept-Îles; southern Quebec near Sherbrooke; central Quebec surrounding Lake Mistassini; and, along the Quebec/Ontario border and the southeastern and southwestern shores of Hudson Bay.

In the West, deficits are forecast for central Alberta west of Edmonton, northwestern Alberta, a large pocket in British Columbia surrounding Prince George, and in northwestern BC. Moderate deficits are forecast in southern Manitoba. 

Surplus conditions are expected in a large block of northwestern Saskatchewan around Churchill Lake westward to Fort McMurray, Alberta; and surrounding Kamloops and Kelowna, BC.

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

One notable difference in the near-term forecast – March through May – from the prior three months is the emergence of widespread, intense surplus conditions in southern British Columbia, particularly surrounding Kamloops and Kelowna. Notable, too, at the opposite side of the country, is the transition in northern Quebec from surplus to normal conditions along with moderate deficit. Likewise, nearly normal conditions are expected to return to Northern Ontario’s Albany River region.

Significant deficit conditions will persist during this period along the Ontario/Quebec border corridor, with increasing extent in a south-spreading fan. A block of exceptional deficit surrounding Lake Mistassini in Quebec is forecast to shrink somewhat. Deficits will persist in northwestern Ontario and emerge in the southwest. Moving west, deficits will continue to emerge near Regina, Saskatchewan and with greater severity near Yorkton. A large block of deficit in the Upper Athabasca Watershed of central Alberta is forecast to become more intense, reaching exceptional severity. Intense deficits will continue to emerge surrounding Prince George, BC and in northwestern BC.

In addition to aforementioned surplus in southern BC, exceptional surplus conditions are forecast from Churchill Lake, Saskatchewan to Fort McMurray, Alberta, and around Fort St. John in the Peace River Region of northeastern BC.

From June through August, much of the eastern half of the country will transition to moderate to severe deficit, with exceptional deficits continuing to emerge in eastern Quebec from Sept-Îles northward, in central Quebec around Lake Mistassini, and along Manitoba’s northern Hudson Bay shore. Deficits in Saskatchewan and Alberta will diminish. Moderate to severe deficits are expected to persist near Prince George, BC and in northwestern BC. Intense surplus conditions will persist from Churchill Lake, SK to Fort McMurray, AB. Surpluses will shrink in southern BC, but exceptional surpluses will continue to emerge around Kelowna.

The forecast for the final three months – September through November – indicates a pattern of anomalies similar to the forecast for the prior three months but with some downgrade in the intensity of deficit.

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

IMPACTS
The Insurance Bureau of Canada notes that options for flood coverage have increased, saying “Water is the new fire ... Larger amounts of rain in shorter amounts of time” have caused water damage to displace fire as the predominant threat in the consciousness of homeowners. According to University of British Columbia researchers, increasing development – in the city of Toronto, for example - amplifies flood risk by paving over porous surfaces, reducing natural drainage. One leading European insurer warns that, as climate change advances, basements in some of the world's largest cities could be uninsurable by 2020.

The much-anticipated arrival of a late winter snow storm in Western Canada was welcomed by farmers across the southern Prairies, providing some relief from dry conditions that have plagued the region since last summer. Though the area remains abnormally dry, the foot of snowfall added moisture equal to an inch and a half of rain.

The third “nor’easter” to hit the Atlantic coast in a two week period knocked out power to 56,000 Nova Scotians and closed all New Brunswick schools. Low visibility and high winds halted power restoration efforts, as the storm dropped up to 35 cm (13.8 inches) of snow in some areas.

In response to last year's record flooding in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, nearly CAN$10.7 million (USD$8.3 million) has been earmarked for flood recovery efforts near the city of Kelowna. With snowpack levels at 141 percent of normal, Okanagan Lake, the main reservoir in the basin, is being drawn down to prevent a repeat of last year's flooding.

NOTE ON ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES
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.

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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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