Weather always topic of discussion

If there is one topic which always gets discussed whenever farmers get together, it is the weather.

When I was a youngster, I can remember the gatherings in the agent offices of local rural elevators. Farmers waiting their turn to deliver a load of grain would 'hang-out' over coffee and talk yields and weather.

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If the conversation lasted long enough, generally winter deliveries when time was less rushed than at harvest, talk might include the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, or the local Ramblers, the senior team in nearby Tisdale, but weather was always first up as topic.

In most farm houses the first thing that happens after crawling out of bed in the morning is a trip to the kitchen where it is a 50/50 scenario whether the coffee pot is turned on first, or the radio to hear a weather forecast.

Such is the reality of a way of life where timely rains, untimely storms and frost, or day-after-day of extreme heat all have a direct impact on how much money the farm will generate in a given year.

In recent years talk, at least in the spring, has meant talk about rain.

The deluges which hit several communities hard on July 1, 2010, and the more general flooding of late June this year being the two biggest topics of conversation regarding weather long after the events themselves.

It now appears severe rain events are likely to be more the norm in the coming years, at least which is how larger weather influencing events on a global scale are being interpreted by some.

Evelyn Browning-Garriss, an historical climatologist and author of the Browning Newsletter, told the 2014 Oilseed & Grain Trade Summit the eastern Prairies are in for more rain.

According to a Western Producer article, "the new normal, which includes wet springs for Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan, is the result of the Pacific Ocean being in a cool phase and the Atlantic Ocean being in a warm phase. Browning-Garriss said they're going to remain that way for a long, long time.

"The Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which operates in 50-year cycles, switched to the cool phase in 2006, while the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which turned hot in 1995, tends to stay in that phase for 40 years and then switch to the cool phase for 30 years.

"Browning-Garriss said prevailing western winds take cool air from the Pacific across the Prairies in spring, where it meets with hot and wet air from the Atlantic.

"The epicentre of that collision is near Manitoba's Red River Valley, which means at least another 20 years of excessively wet springs for the area."

Back on a Prairie farm it might be a little difficult to get one's head around the great oceans impacting weather here, or the idea the patterns are decades long.

But the bottom line does seem to be more rain ahead, and that means farmers will be under the gun to get crops planted, and under the threat of losing acres to flooding. While there is nothing farmers can do to change the weather, it will require some innovative thinking to deal with potentially years of wetter than normal springs.

© Copyright Carlyle Observer

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