June 23rd, 2024

Already one of the wetter Mays in city history

By ANNA SMITH on May 23, 2024.

At 106.5 millimetres of rain through the first three-plus weeks of the month, this has already been one of the wetter Mays in Medicine Hat's history, though the record set in 1903 is unlikely to be threatened.--NEWS PHOTO SCOTT SCHMIDT


The month of May has been unusually wet for the region, already well above averages with the possibility of the most precipitation in 15 years before the month rolls over.

So far, the city has experienced 106.5 millimetres of precipitation in May, said warning preparedness meteorologist Natalie Hasell. The average amount of rain was already exceeded during the large storm on May 7.

“We’ve seen a string of low-pressure systems repeatedly go through the area,” said Hasell. “The greatest amount of precipitation fell on May 7, where 73.3 millimetres were reported. So that alone is more than what you would normally get in the month of May.”

Since then, there have been a high number of low-pressure systems coming through the region, going against the forecasted dry conditions for the month and providing moisture after several recent years of dry conditions. The last comparable year in regards to precipitation was 2010, when the city experienced 118.8 millimetres.

The wettest May in history was in 1903, with 159.8 millimetres. Hasell expressed doubt that this month will break any records, or surpass 2010 to break the top three, but notes it is likely already in the top 10.

“Things are shifting. So we were and still are in El Niño conditions, which typically give us warmer conditions through most of the prairies. And by correlation, it would mean slightly drier conditions than average,” said Hasell. “So we are still kind of in El Niño conditions, (but) we are transitioning towards neutral right now. So that overall forcing mechanism is kind of dying off, we’re no longer in a situation where El Niño will force the jet stream to be in a particular spot over and over and over. So without that, we have a better chance of getting more precipitation.”

“We’re also moving into, climatologically speaking, a time where we would typically see greater amounts of precipitation anyway,” said Hasell.

Usually, the region sees low pressure systems interspersed with opportunities for areas to dry up, but this month has been unseasonably damp, though the short-term forecast predicts the return of some drier weather, even as Medicine Hat’s typically wettest month, June, approaches.

“Overall, the forecasts are still calling for drier than normal conditions. That doesn’t mean you won’t get any precipitation, you will, but right now the forecast is suggesting below normal. However, I think that was suggested as well, earlier this month. And as we’ve seen, you’ve gotten quite a bit more than normal. So it is a bit of a question mark,” said Hasell.

Conditions are expected to return to no precipitation, or very little, in the next few days.

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