From snowstorms to flash floods: a look at Saskatchewan's year in weather

Jeff Johnson uses a snowblower after a powerful snowstorm in Moosomin, Sask., in April. It was one of several storms that hit the community that month. (Daniella Ponticelli/CBC - image credit)
Jeff Johnson uses a snowblower after a powerful snowstorm in Moosomin, Sask., in April. It was one of several storms that hit the community that month. (Daniella Ponticelli/CBC - image credit)

Mother Nature had a few tricks up her sleeve for Saskatchewan this year.

Here's a look back at the year that was.

Late season snowstorms punish southeast Sask.

The province languished in winter conditions through spring thanks to a La Niña weather pattern — where colder Pacific Ocean waters drive colder and snowier winters in Canada, especially later in the season.

This resulted in several rounds of intense snowstorms battering southeastern Saskatchewan in April. One particularly memorable storm hit the week of Apr. 11.

Daniella Ponticelli/CBC
Daniella Ponticelli/CBC

Dubbed "historic" by meteorologists, it dumped up to an estimated 50 centimetres of snow in places like Moosomin and brought 70 to 90 kilometre per hour winds, creating blizzard-like conditions and closing highways.

Just before the Victoria Day weekend, temperatures dropped into the single digits and wet snow blanketed portions of eastern Saskatchewan again.

WATCH | The year in Saskatchewan weather:

Relief from prolonged drought

The excess snow did end drought in portions of eastern Saskatchewan by summer.

It also replenished drought-stricken waterways, including Lake Diefenbaker, according to the Water Security Agency (WSA).

The exceptionally dry western half of the province was drenched by rain in mid June. Nearly 100 millimetres of rain fell in North Battleford in less that 24 hours — breaking the previous one-day rainfall record of 92.7 mm in 1965.

WATCH | Saskatoon's streets were flooded:

Later that month, 75 mm of rain fell in a few hours in parts of Saskatoon, flooding basements and a new storm retention pond, which passed its first test.

Thunderstorms, tornadoes cause damage

After two years of dry and smoky weather, moisture from late-season snow, June rainfall and moisture evaporation from rapidly growing crops fuelled an active severe storm season.

Twenty five tornadoes touched down across the province — the most since 2012. The province records around 17 per year on average.

One did significant damage to properties near Foam Lake on Jun. 29. The same day, beach-goers at Little Manitou Lake captured video of a tornado descending on the area.

WATCH | Bystanders captured footage of tornadoes in Saskatchewan:

Overall, summer storm reports to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) were up in 2022. They included:

  • 87 severe hail reports, compared to the average of 57.

  • 47 significant wind reports, compared to the average of 20.

  • Triple the average number of heavy rainfall reports — 21 compared to seven.

Dry conditions take over 

Late summer and early fall were marked by hot, dry weather. It dried out farmers' fields, and spawned throngs of grasshoppers in south and central regions — the result of egg production thriving in the late summer heat of 2021.

The province says similar conditions this fall will likely result in another year of high grasshopper populations in 2023.

September saw nearly 70 temperature records broken across the province — with highs well into the 30s C. Some records were more than 100 years old.

Swift Current saw its fourth warmest September in 137 years. La Ronge had its warmest and driest October on record.

Despite the heat, farmers finished harvest in good time, with some reporting higher yields than last year because of the extra moisture.

Wildfire reports came in at 454 in 2022, above the five-year average of 382, but no major damage was reported from fires.

The year ahead

A rare "triple dip" La Niña looks to impact Canada again this winter. That could mean similar conditions to the past winter.

But there is some good news, according to ECCC meteorologist Terri Lang.

"There are indications already that it's weakening," Lang said about La Niña. "The sea surface temperatures are coming up. It is forecast to become neutral through the spring and into the summer."

Lang said meteorologists are still watching to see if this means the return of El Niño — the opposite of La Niña — next winter.

Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press
Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press

Although some waterways got much needed moisture this year, WSA spokesperson Patrick Boyle said a dry fall reversed some gains made.

He said the WSA looks at moisture conditions at freeze-up, snow pack during the winter and how runoff occurs to see how reservoirs will shape up come spring.

"The southwest is certainly an area that we've been looking at and more snow there would be a positive thing for everybody," said Boyle, noting it will likely be dry in that area again next year.

How climate change impacts Saskatchewan next year will also be closely watched. That — plus the ever-changing weather patterns — mean 2023 will keep weather watchers on their toes.