Friday, October 14, 2022

Weather woes

As I write this, on October 14, 2022, the Rocky Mountains to the west of me are bare of any snowcover whatsoever. The weather is just beautiful with 20 degree Celsius days behind us and stretching ahead.

Normally, at the beginning of September when school starts here in Alberta, the mountains have already received their first winter coat, gleaming in the morning sunshine.

A flood is a dramatic event causing havoc and chaos within few hours of happening. Then the cleanup begins and things slowly return to normal.

A drought is different. At first, everything seems to be the same as usual with deceptively benign weather, day in and day out: The last recorded rainfall in my rain gauge was 10 millimeters on August 28 and before that a total for the year of 284 mm, well below normal.

The bushland around me is tinder dry and a windy day and a spark is all it would take to create a local disaster. But more troubling are the long term implications if this weather pattern persists: Thousands of shallow water wells, including mine, along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains can potentially dry up as groundwater levels go down.

Intermittent rainfall amounts so far this year have not exceeded 45 mm (under two inches), which is insufficient to recharge groundwater aquifers and only keeps the topsoil damp for a limited amount of time.

People to the east of the Rocky Mountains, both here in Alberta and on the prairies generally, rely on a melting snowpack in the mountains to recharge multiple dams and man made lakes to provide water for the upcoming summer season crops and for domestic/industrial use as well.

When will this weather pattern change to give us some wet manna from heaven?

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