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Effects of El Nino to be felt well into spring

Posted on February 23, 2016 by 40 Mile Commentator

J.W. Schnarr
Southern Alberta Newspapers
One of the strongest El Nino weather patterns on record could contribute to a warm, dry spring, and that could be bad news for farmers.
Brett Anderson, senior meteorologist at Accuweather, said southern Albertans will continue to feel the effects of El Nino well into spring.
“We’re certainly looking at milder temperatures than we would normally see in the spring,” he said. “In fact, this year, we may see temperatures well above normal in April and May – as much as two to four degrees above normal.”
In terms of precipitation, wether watchers are expecting lower-than-normal snow and rain in the spring across the entire province.
“I am definitely concerned that as we get into the late spring and summer months, we will be dealing with drier, very warm conditions across much of Alberta and into Saskatchewan,” he said. “That’s something we need to pay attention to.”
Further, a mild winter with low precipitation has already had some wondering about water come the spring.
“The snow pack has been very low, especially across the southern parts of the province this winter,” said Anderson. “That will also help accelerate the warming trend this spring. The ground is darker-coloured, so it absorbs more energy and warms up more quickly.”
It is not all bad news, however. Anderson said the low snowpack should mean the risk of flooding will be lower than usual as well – a relief for people who live in areas prone to flooding. Additionally, the expected warm spring could extend the growing season.
Anderson said the increased energy in the system through additional heat and moisture from evaporation could increase the severity of thunderstorms. This means that while predictions for moisture are low, and systems that do come through the area could be more severe.
“I think the start of the severe weather season could be a little bit earlier than normal,” he said. “I just don’t know how many storms we will be dealing with.”
Anderson said southern Alberta residents should not expect too much more snow over the coming weeks and toward the end of winter.
For now, it could be a good time for snow sport enthusiasts to hit the slopes while they can, and take advantage of the warmer weather.
“The lack of storms should make any skiing quite pleasant,” said Anderson.

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