Wet weather puts Saskatchewan in Environment Canada’s top 10
Saskatchewan’s unprecedented extreme weather provided two of the top six items in Environment Canada’s top 10 weather stories for 2010.
Number three on Environment Canada’s list highlights how the prairies went from dry to drenched. At the start of 2010 many agricultural producers were looking at another dry spring, and not looking forward to another dry year after portions of the prairies had experienced drought conditions over the past decade. In fact, the prairies experienced record low precipitation between January and March.
In mid-April the rains started, and by mid-May the precipitation hadn’t abated, slowing seeding operations for most and preventing many from getting onto their fields at all.
According to Environment Canada, there was twice as much rain and snow as normal during April and May, making 2009 (the driest spring in 51 years) and 2010 (the wettest ever) complete opposites.
Rains persisted into June, impacting nearly a quarter of prairie crops that were unable to get into the fields or were destroyed after being under water. The Canadian Wheat Board estimated that between three and five million hectares went unseeded – the largest abandoned hectarage in Western Canada since 1971.
Summer brought no change, with wet weather lingering and blocking the arrival of hot, sunny weather.
The critical harvest months on the prairies were impacted by double the average rainfall between mid-August and mid-September.
Producers finally got a break on the first day of the fall season when warm, dry and sunny conditions set in and prevailed through October.
Number six on the list was Saskatchewan’s summer of storms, which resulted 100s of millions of damage.
A steady stream of summer storms swept across the province, causing well over $100 million in property and auto insurance claims. Crop hail claims topped the $100 million mark, four times what claims paid out in 2009.
“Between June 14 and 18, a slow-moving weather system dumped in excess of 100 millimeters of rain over southwestern Saskatchean and Alberta,” Environment Canada’s report notes. “Maple Creek recorded in excess of 100 millimeters; even more occurred at Cypress Hills Park. Torrents of water rushed down the streets of Maple Creek washing piles of debris and thick muck into homes, reaching levels as high as a kitchen counter. The torrential rains washed out both westbound lanes and one east bound lane of the Trans-Canada Highway just west of town. The highway opened to four lanes more than five months later after a $10 million repair. Residents said river levels were the highest they’d seen in 50 years.”
Flooding also impacted Yorkton, Prince Albert, and the Battlefords after record rainfall totals hit those communities.
More than 175 Saskatchewan communities declared weather-related states of emergency and nearly 40 rural municipalities declared themselves agricultural disaster areas.
The full list of top 10 weather events can be viewed at www.ec.gc.ca.