Usually, when you think of Moose Jaw and Saskatchewan as a whole you think of dry, and hot, with little moisture, but that’s not the case this year.
This summer has seen a substantial amount of moisture creating a very humid summer for Moose Jaw residents.
“You are no longer in drought conditions. It has been raining more, which helps more rain to come next,” says Environment Canada Meteorologist, Natalie Hasell. "The local source of moisture is significant because it’s been raining.”
“Looking at the values that we see with respect to humidity and dewpoint, you can see a marked difference between this year and last year at this time. Last year, the drought had already been entrenched for several months.”
From April until Monday (August 15), Moose Jaw has received 167 millimetres of rain, which is still below the 182.9 mm seen at this point last year, Hasell says that the moisture has been able to stick around more, due to the lack of severely warm weather for most of the summer so far.
Early on in spring southeastern parts of the province were hit with a mass amount of rain. In May, Estevan received 133.1 millimetres of rain, which ranked sixth in over 100 years of Environment Canada data. Yorkton recorded 137.9 mm, which was 269 per cent more than normally seen in May at 51.3 mm.
Places in the southwest and south central such as Regina, Moose Jaw, and Swift Current received some moisture, but not enough.
Another factor that has created such a humid summer for Moose Jaw residents is the moisture in crops and the soil.
“That precipitation might still be available in the soil or in the plants through evapotranspiration to feed the storms, so it could become a local source of moisture, but if you have an area not too far away that didn’t get any rain from the previous system, well this next system may not be able to feed on anything in that area.”
Evapotranspiration is the name given to the total water loss to the atmosphere from a land surface, usually expressed in units of depth; it includes the water vapour evaporating from the soil surface and from the liquid water on plant surfaces together with that transpired from within plant surfaces.
Hasell adds that the United States has factored into Saskatchewan’s humid summer, as they are seeing more moisture coming into the province from the Gulf of Mexico.
The increase in precipitation has led Environment Canada to see an increase in humidity percentages, which is created by the dewpoint temperature.
“The closer the dewpoint is to the temperature, the higher the relative humidity. You can compare dewpoints from one day to another day to get an idea of whether there is more moisture or less moisture.”
The National Weather Service describes dew point as; the temperature the air needs to be cooled to in order to achieve a relative humidity of 100%. At this point, the air cannot hold more water in the gas form. If the air were to be cooled, water vapor would have to come out of the atmosphere in liquid form, usually as fog or precipitation. The higher the dew point rises, the greater the amount of moisture in the air.
Humidex is a term to measure how hot we feel. Weather forecasters use the humidex to describe when heat and humidity combine at uncomfortable or dangerous levels.
As an example, in Moose Jaw on August 14, 2021, the temperature at 12:00 p.m., was 33.8 degrees with a dewpoint of 3.4 degrees, which equals a 15 per cent relative humidity. Fast forward to Sunday at the exact same time, the temperature was 26.9 degrees, with a dew point of 18.1 degrees, leading to a humidity value of 58 per cent, making it uncomfortable for residents.
In conclusion, the added precipitation in the air and soil, along with cooler than average temperatures have resulted in a more humid summer in Moose Jaw and parts of Saskatchewan.