Manitoba

Dry summer feared for Manitoba, province preparing in case of possible drought

The Manitoba government says it's prepared in case of a drought this summer, following a winter where some areas saw record-low snowfall.

Province ready to respond if there's not enough rainfall in spring, summer: infrastructure minister

It's been a dry fall and winter for many parts of southern Manitoba, but the province says a drought isn't forecast for the growing season. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

The Manitoba government says it's prepared in case of a drought this summer, following a winter where some areas saw record-low snowfall.

"While there are no current drought impacts, our government is closely monitoring conditions and increasing its drought readiness," Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said Tuesday.

Although the province is heading into a period of dry weather, a bit of precipitation will go a long way, he says.

"A good rainfall, maybe even a late snowstorm, will mitigate a lot of that."

In case of drought, the province is ready to hold back water in the Shellmouth Reservoir.

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler says the province is preparing to respond to any changes to the forecast. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

It might be too early to worry about drought, but farmers are certainly worried about rainfall, says Bill Campbell, the president of Keystone Agriculture Producers.

"We all realize that April showers bring May flowers and makes the grass grow, so we're going to require a pretty widespread general stream of precipitation to get some hay growing," the advocacy group president said.

"I think we are going to require everything to line up pretty good to get a pretty good crop. And anything that alters that ... road map is going to have an effect on us."

On top of dry conditions, one thing that could derail crops is a frost, Campbell said.

In another development, the risk of major spring flooding is low for this season in Manitoba.

Winter precipitation levels continued to track below normal since November of last year in central and southern Manitoba basins, Schuler said as he gave the annual report on spring thaw conditions on Tuesday.

Snowfall in northern Manitoba basins has been normal to below normal since November 2020.

The dry fall in 2020 and rather low precipitation this winter, combined with snow melt and run-off completed in the south, means the risk of high water activity is low, Schuler says.

Spring run-off hasn't started in northern Manitoba basins, including the Saskatchewan and Churchill rivers, Schuler says, adding that a low-to-moderate risk for high water activity is a possibility within these basins.

With files from Bartley Kives

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