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Summer forecast for prairies includes warmer than usual conditions: Environment Canada

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Saskatchewan and the other prairie provinces will see warmer than usual conditions over the summer months, according to a seasonal outlook by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

In fact, many other parts of the country will also likely see above normal conditions, as well as below-normal precipitation, experts with ECCC say.

In a virtual presentation on Tuesday, Jennifer Smith, national warning preparedness meteorologist with ECCC, said while heat will be a common theme this summer, daily weather will vary.

“Expect heat waves, cool spells, and all the fluctuations that summer weather brings. Those events added up over the course of the June, July, August season make that summer season story, and in this case, one that is predicted to be above seasonal compared to what is climatologically normal,” she explained.

According to temperature anomalies over the spring and over the past year, temperatures have been higher than normal from the Prairies to the Atlantic coastline, as well as the North.

The orange over the prairies on the graphic indicates above normal temperatures (Photo source: ECCC) The central prairies to Atlantic Canada were main paths for several storms over March, April, and May.

However, those spring storms are not enough to see long term relief from the heat and drought yet, according to Nathan Gillett, research scientist with ECCC.

“Over the course of the spring season, several storms occurred in March and April over the central and eastern prairies as well as Ontario and Quebec and out to Labrador, which provided temporary relief in those regions, but it wasn't enough to alleviate the long term deficit Canada wide,” he explained.

(Photo source: ECCC)Because ECCC is predicting a warmer than normal summer across much of Canada, there is an increased risk of drought and wildfires this year. Gillett looked to Alberta as an example.

“This heat wave that happened at end of April, beginning of May last year coincided with the start of several large wildfires right at the beginning of last year's exceptional wildfire season,” he said.

According to Smith, Canada experienced its worst wildfire season on record and the air quality was impacted as a result.

“On track conditions are probable this summer, given the seasonal outlook which is conducive to wildfires and thus smoke,” she said.

“Conditions that are favourable for fires that meteorologists are monitoring for are heat, dry conditions, and usually windy as well, because that will contribute to development and spread of fires.”

Most of Canada is predicted to experience a warmer than usual summer. (Photo source: ECCC)In response to public feedback during last year’s wildfires, improvements were made to the air quality alert system, including improved smoke quality maps, according to Smith.

“The impact of wildfire smoke not only affects regions in proximity to fires, but possibly thousands of kilometers away,” she said.

Southern Saskatchewan has seen its fair share of poor air quality due to wildfires in Alberta and British Columbia, breaking a record of smoke hours in 2023.

Special air quality statements were in effect for much of the province since wildfires began.

In April, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) warned that Saskatchewan may see an earlier start to the wildfire season, which coincides with ECCC’s prediction of a warm summer.

As of June 11, there are no active wildfires in the province. However, there were 174 wildfires to date.

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