Moose Jaw records driest year in more than a century

·2 min read

It was a tale of two weather extremes for Saskatchewan in 2020.

Some areas of southern Saskatchewan saw record-breaking dry conditions, while the north was swamped with precipitation.

Moose Jaw had the driest year since records started being kept 104 years ago.

The city received 179.6 mm of precipitation in 2020, about 49 per cent of what it normally receives.

"The whole south was quite dry," said Terri Lang, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

"Estevan had their second driest year (222.9 mm), Regina with their fourth driest (204.4mm), Swift Current with their fourth driest (239.8 mm) and Yorkton with their fifth driest (267.4 mm)."

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Environment and Climate Change Canada

Lang said Swift Current's numbers would have been even worse if not for the big snowstorm in November.

Farmers will be hoping for significant snowfall in the next few months before the spring, she said.

"[Farmers] want it dry until they get the crop off the field [in the fall] and then they want to see the moisture start to pile up because the snow is money in the bank for them for the spring," Lang said. "It adds to the soil moisture, which they need for the crops."

Up north heavy rainfall has meant swollen lakes and rivers.

Key Lake residents had to slog through a record 605 mm of precipitation in 2020.

"We saw very few forest fires because of the abundance of rain," Lang said.

"The concern will be how much moisture is up there and what that means in the springtime when everything starts melting."

Submitted by Sask. Water Security Agency
Submitted by Sask. Water Security Agency

North Battleford was moisture-laden overall in 2020 with 481.1 mm of precipitation, but that was only because of a storm in July that dropped 150 mm worth of rain over two days..

"When you look at the December 2020 stats, North Battleford came in with their driest December that they've recorded," Lang said. "So you always have to look at the longer term and sort of look at what happens. It could be one event that can change a lot of things."

Most of the province recorded near-normal temperatures in 2020.

Northern Saskatchewan was a little colder than average,central Saskatchewan was close to average, and the southeast corner came in a little bit warmer.

"Western Canada was one of the only places that actually came in either near average or colder than average," Lang aid. "Most of the world actually is warming."

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Environment and Climate Change Canada

Lang cautioned not to read too much into one year's worth of weather data.

"You always have to kind of keep comparing because, you know, not so long ago we had one of the wettest years on record that was set in 2014," she said.

"So it's always the trend that you have to look at."