Canada: Water surpluses will shrink in S. Quebec

18 June 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month outlook for Canada through February 2020 indicates large pockets of water deficit in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan, northern Alberta, and British Columbia. Deficits will be exceptional in many regions.

A large block of intense surplus is forecast surrounding Fort McMurray, Alberta leading north to Lake Athabasca and east past Churchill Lake, Saskatchewan. Surpluses of generally lesser intensity are forecast near Fort St. John in northern British Columbia and in south-central BC. At the opposite end of the country, surpluses are expected in southern Ontario from Lake Huron to Toronto and at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River near the Manicouagan River.

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

The forecast through August indicates that surpluses in southern Quebec will shrink, leaving some moderate surpluses around Montreal, and moderate to exceptional surpluses along the St. Maurice River and at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River along the Manicouagan. Surpluses will increase in eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. Moderate to severe surpluses are forecast from Lake Huron to Toronto, but intense deficits will persist along Ontario’s eastern border and in the northwest leading into central Manitoba and following southwestern Hudson Bay. Moderate to exceptional deficits are forecast from Winnipeg, Manitoba westward past Regina, Saskatchewan. A vast pocket of intense surplus will persist in northwestern Saskatchewan past Fort McMurray, Alberta. Intense deficits are expected in northwestern Alberta and deficits slightly less intense from the town of Peace River to Edmonton. In British Columbia deficits will remain intense around Vancouver, at the meeting of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers in the center of the province, and along the Skeena River in the northwest. Surpluses are forecast around Fort St. John in northeastern BC, and in the southern Columbia Mountains.

From September through November the extent of both deficits and surpluses will diminish across the country, leaving nearly normal conditions in most major metropolitan areas. However, deficits will persist in Quebec west of Lake Mistassini, around the southwestern edge of Hudson Bay and across the center of Manitoba, in central and northern Alberta and British Columbia. A large block of surplus will persist from northeastern Alberta into northwestern Saskatchewan. Surpluses will moderate east of Fort St. John, BC and will persist in the southern Columbia Mountains.

The forecast for the final three months – December 2019 through February 2020 – indicates a forecast similar to the prior three months.

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

IMPACTS
Hay prices are on the rise as drought in the Canadian Prairies diminishes this season’s hay growth. A cold dry spring delayed the season’s first cut, and the delayed hay may mature more quickly, reducing overall yields. This year’s grim outlook follows two consecutive years of below-average hay yields.

Hotter-than-average weather in British Columbia is depleting streams and rivers to levels normally not seen until July, threatening salmon survival. The head of the province’s River Forecast Centre contended that this is the fifth year in a pattern of drought that used to be seen only every 10 or 20 years. The province’s red cedars are experiencing drought stress as well, evidenced by top-down discoloration. A centerpiece of aboriginal culture and the commodity in a billion-dollar industry, the red cedar is the official tree of British Columbia. Only the most exposed trees along forest edges are affected so far, but continued years of drought may threaten the mountain-borne cedars.

Ottawa’s state of emergency, declared in April due to flood threat, has precluded anybody buying property in the region from purchasing flood insurance policies from at least one home insurance provider. The company noted that once the flood emergency is lifted, it will resume selling new policies.

The Quebec government is offering residential buyouts to people living in flood areas, offering $200,000 to homeowners who agree to relocate to higher and dryer ground. As of early June, the provincial government has paid out $25.9 million (USD $19.3 million) to victims of this spring’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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