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News, Western Canada

Warm Winter Could Lead to Floods and Fires in Saskatchewan

Posted on March 13, 2016

University of Saskatchewan climate change expert, John Pomeroy, says that Saskatchewan is vulnerable to extreme weather events, including floods and wildfires, after an unseasonably warm winter.

Pomeroy, who is the Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change and director of the Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan, told the News Talk 650 CKOM that southern Saskatchewan was five degrees above normal during the month of February.

“To be five degrees above normal in winter can be much more pleasant, but as a result, we don’t have a spring snowpack over much of the southern province,” Pomeroy said.

He explained that the consistent rain that has fallen across the province all winter has created thick ice above ground and within the soil that could lead to heavy runoff and put the prairies at a higher risk of flooding than normal.

Pomeroy said that flooding is already a huge economic burden in Saskatchewan. He says more could be done to adapt by improving infrastructure.

“These are the things we need to continue to improve so we can survive these types of events,” he said.

The situation in Saskatchewan demonstrates the impacts of climate change and El Niño being felt globally. This week, NASA reported that February 2016 was the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global record-keeping.

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