Saskatchewan Winter of 2002

FTLComm - Saskatchewan - Friday, January 4, 2002

To celebrate the coming of the New Year with family we traveled across the province from Tisdale to Swift Current and Tompkins then yesterday returned via Regina.

The one issue that begins every conversation and dominates the minds of all be they involved in agriculture or not is the drought that seems a part of this province and how we are coping with

the situation.

Our pictorial tour begins with the picture at the top of the page looking East down the Qu Appelle Valley from highway 6 south of Southey. The little stream that in some years can fill the whole valley floor in spring is just a frozen ditch that squiggles through the dry valley. Snow cover is the big thing province wide as we all are apprehensive of the coming year and hopeful that nature will give us some snow to get the growing season underway.

The second picture shows hoar frost on trees East of Wakaw on New Years Eve where the snow is very thin

As one heads West from Tisdale toward Saskatoon the snow in the fields and ditches soon disappears so that there is just a light dusting by the time you reach Saskatoon and from Saskatoon to Rosetown there is even less.

The third picture was taken New Years Day West of Swift Current on the hills East of Gull Lake where there is a windmill farm busily generating electrical energy.

We spent New Years day in Tompkins and that night we captured these three pictures of two decked out houses. The one of them with a Santa Claus lit up on the roof and the television antenna fully lit also had a limo sitting out front.

We talked of the conditions around Tompkins, a community that depends very heavily on the "cow-calf" business of ranching. With virtually no crop this past year and almost no hay these ranchers who have been able to hang on to their herds are feeding them with feed being shipped in from Manitoba. While driving from Swift Current to Regina on

Thursday we met ten loaded semi units headed West with hay.

These next set of images were taken by Judy Shire of the wind tossed Swift Current sky around 5:30 Wednesday evening. Warm desert winds washed over the prairies pushing the winter temperature up to right

around the freezing point. In the last picture of that group (above) we are looking across the prairie West of the city and you can see the snow which is more like frost than snow on the barren field.

Now East of Swift Current there is some improvement as we headed to Herbert things were about the same yet East of Chaplin as we climbed the rough terrain West of Mortlach there was signs of snow on the grasslands. From Regina to

Moose Jaw the fields look about the same as the area from Regina to Raymore as can be seen in the image of the Qu Apple Valley (above).

This farm gate lit with the setting sun is South of Raymore and you can make out the grass poking through the snow in the ditch but there is enough cover for snow mobiling in this area.

But the impressively warm temperatures seem to mirror the warm dry fall. Often people reason that the seasons somehow balance

off one another must be understood more as a popular myth than anything based on reality. The fact is that 2001 is one of the warmest driest years on record and 2002 will be similar, climate and weather certainly change but they do so gradually and it only follows that such a warm fall would be followed by an equally mild winter.

We are in the deepest of winter right now with the shortest days and today the morning temperature in Tisdale was a mere -3ºC. Forecasts for the weekend are to continue mild. When you look at the conventional pattern you will discover that the temperature should just migrate lower and lower as the length of the sun's exposure each day and as the days get longer the temperatures should rise. So with the shortest days in the year we are close to freezing indicates a remarkably mild winter.

We all know that viscous temperatures often visit us in late January and early February but with warm December having occurred our winter this year is shortened considerably.