A month of misery

Wonky weather brought a mixed bag of tricks for just about everyone who stuck their noses outside during May.

Wonky weather brought a mixed bag of tricks for just about everyone who stuck their noses outside during May.

Starting out cool and extremely dry with a few days of sunshine on occasion, May opened in dull shades of brown, but finished up with a lively mix of greens after a series of heavy rainfalls and snowstorms. Farmers and gardeners who had started planting early in the month were stopped in their tracks as the Victoria Day long weekend approached, bringing chilly weather, high winds and plenty of rain.

Tiny rivers ran between the rows of new crops that had just started to emerge.

There was a brief break on May 24, and then another series of storms crashed through the region, bringing rain and snow.

Red Deer seemed to get hit the hardest during the latest snowstorm, which struck early Saturday and blanketed the area, said Trevor Poth, parks superintendent for the City of Red Deer.

Poth had been in Edmonton and was surprised to see so much white stuff on the ground upon his return to Red Deer.

The mix of dry and sunny weather with nasty winds brought about a mixed result that ended up with some benefits, Poth said on Tuesday.

Because the weather had been cold, trees had not leafed up as much as they would have. The result was a reduction in the amount of damage they would have suffered had there been more foliage on their branches, he said.

While some branches broke, the damage was minor compared with the devastation the trees could have suffered from heavy snow and high winds, said Poth.

On a more dismal note, plentiful moisture followed by bright sunshine has created excellent breeding conditions for mosquitoes, he said.

The city treats 75 square km of breeding grounds, but cannot control mosquitoes that ride the wind from outside that area.

The consequence is, despite Red Deer’s award-winning efforts, city residents will to have to cope with more of the pesky little biters than normal, said Poth.

Water plant supervisor Smiley Douglas said that, overall, water coming from the Red Deer River has required significantly less treatment than usual to make it palatable for local citizens.

The river was low and quiet at the start of the season, when it is generally high and turbid, he said. Rainfall and snow contributed to increased turbidity later in the month, peaking on May 18. Douglas had a few reports from city staff that day of tastes and odours in the water, but has not had any complaints or inquiries from the public.

Harry Brook, crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, reported earlier that crops seeded while it was still dry have emerged and may be at risk of frost. However, because May was generally cool, those crops will have developed some resistance to frost.

As far as how May 2010 compares with a normal May, there is really no such animal, said Brooks. The only thing normal is change, he said.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com