‘Extreme drought’ expands in Prairies

Source: www.producer.com

WINNIPEG — Agriculture Canada’s Canadian Drought Monitor’s (CDM) new map shows the ongoing drought on the Prairies is getting worse.

According to the nationwide map released May 7, southwestern Manitoba, parts of southern Saskatchewan and the southeastern corner of Alberta are under CDM’s classification of extreme drought (D3) as of April 30.

The communities in these areas include Winkler, Selkirk and Brandon in Manitoba, as well as Weyburn and Estevan in Saskatchewan.

This is despite mid-month rains around Regina, Shaunavon and Gull Lake, which replenished soil moisture but did not improve conditions based on CDM’s metrics.

“However, even with this much-needed moisture, severe drought (D2) and extreme drought (D3) were expanded across southern Saskatchewan given a significant lack of moisture through the winter season and a dry 2020 growing season,” the assessment said.

D2 is considered to be a drought event occurring every 10 to 20 years, while D3 is one that is believed to occur every 20 years or more.

“In southern Manitoba, exceptional short- and long-term dryness persisted, which led to an expansion of the previously small pockets of extreme drought (D3). This dryness, in combination with snow melt, exposing soils to sunlight, winds and evaporation, led to D3 conditions expanding to the southwestern corner of the province including Neepawa to Russell and Virden and the Interlake region,” the assessment added.

In Alberta, moderate drought (D1, once every five to 10 years) conditions were expanded to southern parts of the province, but recent precipitation across the Rocky Mountains have ended drought conditions there.

Areas around Calgary are now classified as abnormally dry (D0, every three to five years), while the area around Vegreville is at D2, as well as near North Battleford, Sask.

While adequate precipitation in east-central Saskatchewan and the Parkland region of Manitoba helped alleviate conditions, which ranged from D0 to D2, the dry conditions are even more widespread and more intense.

“Seventy-seven percent of the prairie region was classified as either abnormally dry (D0), in moderate drought (D1), severe drought (D2) or extreme drought (D3); this includes nearly 93 percent of the region’s agricultural landscape,” the assessment added.