Canada: Water deficits will persist in northern QC, MB, AB

18 September 2019

The 12-month outlook for Canada through May 2020 indicates a vast arc of exceptional water deficit in northern Quebec from Lake Mistassini curving northeast to the province’s eastern border. Large pockets of intense deficit are also forecast for eastern and northwestern Ontario, central and northeastern Manitoba, central and northern Alberta, and central British Columbia.

A path of severe to exceptional deficits is forecast across southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba including the Assiniboine River Watershed, with exceptional deficits around Regina, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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 southeast of Fort St. John in northern British Columbia and in the southern Columbia Mountains region of south-central British Columbia. At the opposite end of the country, surpluses are expected in eastern continental Newfoundland and Labrador, and in southern Quebec east of the Gouin Reservoir.

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

The forecast through November for major metropolitan areas of the nation, from east to west, includes normal conditions around Quebec City; some deficits around Montreal; moderate deficits between Toronto and Ottawa; moderate to extreme deficits southeast of Winnipeg; normal conditions in Regina Saskatoon, Calgary, and Edmonton; and near-normal conditions around Vancouver.

Areas of prior surplus in southern Quebec (QC) east of the Gatineau River will return to normal with some mild deficits. A vast arc of exceptional deficit will persist in northern QC from Lake Mistassini to the province’s eastern border. Surpluses will shrink in eastern continental Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) but deficits are forecast for Newfoundland. Deficits will shrink but persist along Ontario’s (ON) eastern border, and deficits will persist in the province’s northwest quadrant. Moderate surpluses are expected in the northeastern ON on Hudson Bay, in the southwest, and spreading from the northeastern shore of Lake Superior.

In the Prairie Provinces, deficits of varying intensity are forecast for southern Manitoba (MB) and exceptional deficits in large blocks north of Lake Winnipeg and in the northeast along Hudson Bay. Surpluses will stretch from north-central Alberta (AB) through Fort St. McMurray and northern Saskatchewan (SK) into northwestern MB and will include exceptional anomalies. Intense deficits will persist in northwestern AB and in the Middle Reaches of the Athabasca River Watershed in the center of the province. In British Columbia (BC), surpluses are forecast in the southern Columbia Mountains, deficits at the meeting of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers in central BC, and in the north from Prince Rupert on the Pacific Coast northward across the border into Yukon.

From December 2019 through February 2020, the extent of deficits will diminish somewhat across the country as large blocks in aforementioned areas shrink. Areas of moderate deficit forecast in the prior three months for southern QC and southern ON will normalize, and deficits in Newfoundland will diminish. Surpluses will persist in much the same distribution pattern as in the September through November forecast, increasing slightly in southern BC

The forecast for the final three months – March through May 2020 – indicates that deficits will continue to shrink, surpluses will emerge in northern QC between Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait, areas of surplus in ON will return to normal, and surpluses will increase BC.

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

Former Category 5 Hurricane Dorian hit Halifax and Newfoundland as a post-tropical cyclone this month, knocking out power to over 300,000 homes in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. The storm reportedly ripped roofs off of apartment buildings and uprooted trees in Halifax, and collapsed a crane onto a building under construction. Hundreds of members of the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to Halifax to assist with cleanup.

An eight-minute hailstorm in August wiped out this year’s harvest of Western Canadian delicacy and cult-favorite crop, Taber corn, grown in Alberta.

The provincial government of Quebec is increasingly encouraging people who live in floodplains to relocate instead of rebuild, as floods become more frequent. In April the province initiated a policy to offer payout options of $100,000 (CAN$) to rebuild or $200,000 to relocate (~USD$75-$150k), where if the offer to rebuild is taken, no subsequent applications can be made in the event of another flood.

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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