Severe thunderstorm watches and warnings have been issued for Moose Jaw and the surrounding around over the last few days. But could farmland moisture play a role in the severity of these storms?
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada Meteorologist Natalie Hasell, it is possible.
She said moisture is what fuels thunderstorms. If there is enough low-level moisture near the surface it can build a storm.
Moisture can come from several sources from as far away as the Gulf of Mexico or locally through bodies of water and crops.
“If you have agricultural land, especially if it's being irrigated, but even if it hasn't been, the evapotranspiration from the crops themselves allows for the moisture to increase locally,” Hasell explained.
Evapotranspiration is the process in which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil or other surfaces and by transpiration from plants.
However, Hasell said there are a number of factors that come into play when it comes to how farmlands affect our weather.
“The type of crop that is grown can make a difference, how well the season has gone up to that point can make a difference, and if you have even more moisture because you also have the local sources, then the storms can grow that much larger,” Hasell said.
Since June 1, Moose Jaw received about 14 mm of rainfall including 12.2 mm of rain on June 2.
Assiniboia got hit a lot harder with 66.5 mm of rain since June 1 including 35.1 mm on June 1 and 21.1 mm on June 2.
Hasell noted that, because thunderstorms are small, data collected from one site might not be representative of what entire areas received.