Canada: Water deficits forecast near Winnipeg, surpluses near Toronto

16 August 2019

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

A large block of intense surplus is forecast surrounding Fort McMurray, Alberta leading north past Lake Athabasca and east past Churchill Lake, Saskatchewan. Surpluses of generally lesser intensity are forecast east of Fort St. John in northern British Columbia and in the southern Columbia Mountain region of south-central BC. At the opposite end of the country, surpluses are expected in eastern continental Newfoundland and Labrador, and along a path in southern Quebec from the Gouin Reservoir to just north of Quebec City.

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

The most noticeable difference in the forecast through October compared to the prior three months’ observed conditions is that widespread surpluses in southern Quebec (QC) will return to normal, and regions of deficit in southern Alberta (AB) and Saskatchewan (SK) will also normalize. Forecasts for the major metropolitan areas of the nation, from east to west, include normal conditions around Quebec City, Montreal, and Ottawa; surpluses near Toronto; moderate to exceptional deficits in southern Manitoba (MB) with severe deficits around Winnipeg; normal conditions in Regina, Saskatoon, and Calgary; and near-normal conditions around Vancouver.

Intense deficits are expected to persist in the following regions: a vast arc in QC from Lake Mistassini past Michikamau Lake in Newfoundland and Labrador; near Ontario’s (ON) eastern border; the southwest corner of Hudson Bay in MB and northeast of Lake Winnipeg; north of the Peace River in AB and the Middle Reaches of the Athabasca River Watershed north of Edmonton; in central BC at the meeting of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers, and along the north-central border into Yukon. Areas of surplus include the southern Columbia Mountains region of BC and a vast block from Fort McMurray, AB well into northwestern SK.

From November 2019 through January 2020, the extent of deficits will diminish somewhat across the country as large blocks in aforementioned areas shrink, while the pattern of surplus is expected to remain much the same.

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

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

IMPACTS
[updated 26 Aug 2019]
The federal government is providing tax breaks to livestock producers in the Prairie Provinces and Quebec to offset water-reduced feed shortages. Eligibility is determined by location and having experienced forage shortfalls of 50 percent or more caused by drought or excess moisture. An initial list of regions includes northern British Columbia and Alberta, southeastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec.

Southwestern British Columbia had an unseasonably rainy start to August with hours of rain, prompting rainfall warnings and special weather statements for the Vancouver area.

In norther BC, a mid-August snowstorm forced the closure of a campground due to safety concerns. Roughly half a meter of snow fell in the remote Pink Mountain area in the Rocky Mountain foothills over three days. Mid-August snowfall in remote, high-elevated areas along the Rocky Mountains is not unheard of, but is uncommon.

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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