A fool's spring? Alberta is in it, says senior climatologist

·3 min read
The trees in Edmonton's river valley have begun to bud, but we may still get a taste of winter weather.  (Jamie McCannel/CBC - image credit)
The trees in Edmonton's river valley have begun to bud, but we may still get a taste of winter weather. (Jamie McCannel/CBC - image credit)

Alberta may be in the midst of fool's spring.

It has been said there are, in fact, five stages of spring in Alberta: fool's spring, second winter, a spring of deception, mud season and then finally, true spring.

Alberta has yet to reach full-fledged spring and may largely bypass mud season due to a lack of rain, says Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips.

But when the uninterrupted balmy spring weather does arrive, it will be colder than average.

Albertans should expect the unexpected in the weeks ahead, including some chilly temperatures, Phillips said.

Last weekend the province was walloped with a powerful snowstorm and we may not be "out of the woods" just yet, Phillips said.

"Spring is going to hang on to this kind of back and forth kind of weather," he said.

"We see the flavour of the rest of April into May is going to be a little cooler than normal. It's not going to be a rush to summer-like weather."

Cold weather 'lurking'

Even with a sunny Friday and Saturday ahead, don't be duped.

Of all the Mays on record, two thirds had snow, Phillips said.

Cold weather is still "lurking around the corner," Phillips warned. For proof, look to this weekend's forecast.

After a balmy Saturday with an expected high near 20 C, both Edmonton and Calgary could see snow on Sunday.

"There still could be some warm days, but we think that cold arctic air is not finished."

Albertans should be praying for rain, Phillips said, suggesting farmers and wildland firefighters already are.

A stubborn lack of precipitation throughout the winter has left Alberta's forests, crops and grasslands unusually dry, he said.

Since September, the Edmonton region has 40 per cent less precipitation than average, he said.

He said the province will hopefully make up for that lack of snowpack during the rainy season in May, June and July.

"You're already into a deficit situation, behind the eight ball, in terms of that," he said.

"The dryness is an issue. It will continue to be an issue. And then if you have a summer that's warmer than normal and drier, that's an ugly combination."

'Mother Nature doesn't care'

There will be some reward for being patient, Phillips said.

Summer, at least the first half of it, is expected to be balmier than average, he said.

In the meantime, he urges Albertans to watch the skies and keep calm.

"I think most Canadians are getting to the point where they feel like they're owed it. It's almost as if it's nature's IOU to give us this kind of early coming of summer-like weather.

"But, you know, Mother Nature doesn't care what we think about or what we care about her. She just delivers it as it comes and we have to put up with it.

"We've had a lot of false springs and teasers but that's what spring is really about."

The ice is almost gone from the North Saskatchewan as Edmontonians enjoy their first taste of summer temperatures.
The ice is almost gone from the North Saskatchewan as Edmontonians enjoy their first taste of summer temperatures. (Jamie McCannel/CBC)