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Frost hits Alta. crops, cold to hit Sask., Man.

(Resource News International) — New record-low temperatures were established in a number of the grain and oilseed growing regions of Alberta overnight, with readings in Saskatchewan overnight Tuesday also having a chance of dropping below freezing, according to updated weather outlooks.

The extent of the damage to crops was not known at this time, government and industry officials said.

Environment Canada said 10 record lows were set in Alberta overnight Monday under clear skies and a ridge of high pressure.

Readings at Sundre, just northwest of Calgary, dropped to -4.4°C overnight Monday while temperatures at the Edmonton airport dropped to -3.4°C overnight, Environment Canada said.

Temperatures in the eight remaining record-low areas of Alberta ranged anywhere from 0.4° to -2.9°C.

Environment Canada said there was a risk of frost overnight Tuesday in a number of areas in Saskatchewan as well as in the western regions of Manitoba. Temperatures were expected to drop to around the 0°C range, the level at which frost can occur, particularly in low lying areas.

The level of frost damage to crops also depends on how long temperatures remain below freezing.

Drew Lerner of Kansas City-based World Weather Inc. said after the low readings occur tonight, the next wave of cold will arrive on the weekend.

Frost scenario

“The cold will be a little different than the conditions experienced this morning in Alberta,” he said. “This morning the air was dry, and the temperatures fell pretty quickly given the clear skies… it was a perfect scenario for a frost.”

Conditions coming up at the end of this week will be less than ideal for a frost to occur, he said.

There will be a cold air mass coming in over Western Canada, but there is also a storm system that will move just north of the Canada-U.S. border, bringing with it widespread cloudiness across the border and into the southern Prairies, which should help temperatures from getting into the critical low readings in some areas, Lerner said.

However, he said, the northern areas of the Canadian Prairies will continue to be vulnerable to frost and freezing conditions.

There may also be a few areas in Saskatchewan and Manitoba that will match the cold readings seen in Alberta.

“If there is good news to be had with all this, is that even though it is going to be cold, there is a chance that precipitation with this storm system could move far enough north to provide some minor temporary relief to some of the drought-stricken areas of west-central Saskatchewan and east-central Alberta,” Lerner said.

However, the moisture doesn’t look to be substantial in quantity.

“Any precipitation in that region will be welcome, but more will definitely be required,” he said.

In talking with producers in that drought area, Lerner said they indicated that if they don’t get rain during the next two weeks, the crops will be lost.

Warmer, but later

Producers do need to see warmer temperatures, he said, but those readings are not likely to return until the middle of next week.

“Over the next seven days, temperatures in the Canadian grainbelt will be fairly cool across the region. There will be a brief period of warming in the drought area, mostly lower 20s (°C) as we go into the second half of this week,” Lerner said.

“But Friday night and Saturday the colder air will return, with readings dropping down into the single-digit °C area,” he said.

“Once we get through the weekend, readings will stay cool into early next week… but temperatures should start to begin warming in the middle part of next week.”

But this will not be the warm air that’s going to push readings into the high 20s, he said. “I really think there will be a lot of cloudiness associated with the warmer readings.”

It will almost be July before the readings on the Canadian Prairies return to more normal for this time of year, Lerner said.

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