Canada: Water deficits to downgrade in SK & MB

21 August 2018

The 12-month outlook for Canada through April 2019 (below) indicates large pockets of intense water deficit in every province, and large pockets of intense surplus in southern British Columbia and northwestern Saskatchewan into Alberta.

Intense deficits are forecast to encompass vast blocks in: eastern Quebec from the Caniapiscau Reservoir to the St. Lawrence River; around Lake Mistassini in central Quebec; Ontario’s eastern border; northeastern Manitoba and north of Lake Winnipeg; the Lower Athabasca and Lower Peace River regions of Alberta; surrounding Prince George, British Columbia and in the northwest. Intense deficits are also forecast in southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, including around Regina (SK) and Winnipeg (MB).

Exceptional surplus conditions are expected in a large block of northwestern Saskatchewan around Churchill Lake westward to Fort McMurray, Alberta; surrounding Kamloops and Kelowna, British Columbia; and in far eastern Quebec.

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

The forecast through October indicates some retreat of exceptional deficits overall, especially in southern Saskatchewan (SK) and southern Manitoba (MB) where deficits are expected to downgrade, becoming mild to moderate. Deficits will shrink in British Columbia (BC) around Prince George, though remain exceptional; will downgrade somewhat in Alberta (AB) and along Ontario’s (ON) eastern border, though remain intense. Deficits in Quebec (QC) will shrink somewhat but remain widespread. Exceptional surpluses in southern BC and northeastern AB into SK will diminish, with conditions of both deficit and surplus forecast as transition occur.

From November through January, exceptional deficits will nearly disappear. Deficits are expected to be moderate to extreme in northern BC, moderate to severe in central AB, and primarily moderate in central SK, central MB, and northwestern ON. Moderate deficits are also forecast along the northern border of ON/QC but could be severe in some areas. Exceptional surpluses will persist in BC surrounding Kelowna and leading north; surpluses of lesser intensity are expected near Fort St. John in the northeast. Surpluses will increase in north-central AB, and intense surpluses are forecast to persist near Fort McMurray. Some moderate surpluses are expected in northwestern MB into northeastern SK.

The forecast for the final three months – February through April – indicates conditions similar to the forecast for the prior three months in the interior provinces, but surpluses are forecast to emerge in eastern QC, and throughout much of BC.

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

Mexico deployed over 300 firefighters to Ontario in late July to help battle forest fires in the province. Named Parry Sound 33, the largest fire burned through over 100 square kilometers (38.6 square miles) as of early August. In response to increasing frequency and severity of fires in both countries, Canada and Mexico agreed in 2016 to exchange wildfire resources and information in a Memorandum of Understanding.

The Canadian Armed Forces will deploy 200 personnel to help combat nearly 600 wildfires that have displaced thousands of people in British Columbia. The federal forces will join over 3,400 personnel including wildfire crews, contractors, and municipal firefighters currently combating the blazes, which have raised the air quality risk to the most severe scale on B.C.’s Air Quality Health Index. Since the beginning of April, B.C. has spent $207 million (USD 158.3 million) fighting wildfires.

Heavy rains in Toronto this month washed out roadways and caused heavy flooding in the downtown area, leaving cars submerged in water-filled underpasses and trapping two men in a flooding basement elevator. The men stood on the elevator’s handrails to breathe in the mere one foot of air space left before they were rescued by police.

Canada’s minister for public safety and emergency preparedness announced that Canada has spent more money in the last six years on cleaning up damage done by fires and floods than it had in the prior history of the program dating back to 1970, urging government to take more medium-to-long- term actions against such effects of climate change.

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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