Lack of snow poses challenges for Sask. farmers looking ahead to spring
Not having to shovel snow that much this season has brought a smile to many people’s faces. For others, the lack of snowfall has been a bit of a let down and without snowpack, some Saskatchewan farmers aren’t off to a very promising start come spring.
“It’s been a thin year for snowfall so far this year, most of our snow fell in October,” Environment Canada meteorologist Terri Lang said.
In Saskatoon, what little snow accumulation was there melted during warm spells or was lost to sublimation – where snow goes from a solid to a gas without melting in between.
“We’re well below normal for snowfall,” Lang added.
According to Environment Canada, there’s two centimetres of snow on the ground or less in Regina.
In Saskatoon, the 30-year average for snow depth by January is 16 cm. Here’s a look at snowfall amounts for the last several years in the area as of Jan. 15.
For Saskatoon Nordic Ski Club, whose 700 members bank on the white stuff, the lack of snow has made for some difficult conditions.
“There’s not snow for the groomers to work with so we’ve just barely got the ground covered,” said Dan Brisbin, past president of the club.
“There’s patches of dirt showing through and such.”
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Snow groomers have become magicians this winter as they maintain the trails at spots like Kinsmen Park added Brisbin.
Things will also be much easier once the Gordie Howe Sports Complex is complete. The club is partnering with the complex and will have access to snow-making equipment in the event Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
At the Western Canadian Crop Production Show in Saskatoon, the lack of moisture is top of mind for those in attendance.
Kurt Olsen said farming can be the best or the worst job in the world, it all depends on what the weather does.
“Lots of times it’s a nice spring rain that will bring your crop through far more than snowfall,” said Olsen, who farms in the Birch Hills area.
“Snowfall can range in how much moisture is in it – there maybe lots of snow but very little moisture in it.”
In some parts of the Prairies, snowfall amounts aren’t even registering.
That’s not to say we still won’t get a big blast of snow in the next couple of months ahead of spring seeding.
“The heaviest snowfalls come in the shoulder season, they come in the fall or in the spring when there’s more moisture available in the atmosphere to produce heavier snowfalls,” Lang explained.
If not, those in field will be counting heavily on spring rains.
“Put it in the ground and pray for rain,” Olsen said.
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