The mild temperatures that Central Albertans embraced in October were nothing out of the ordinary — but the lack of moisture was a bit of an oddity.
“Precipitation was way below normal,” said Greg Pearce, forecaster with Environment Canada. “The temperature wasn’t too far from normal.”
The Red Deer region recorded 4.6 mm of rainfall during October, compared to the normal average of 11.9 mm. And only a trace of snow fell in a month that typically sees 8.5 cm of the white, fluffy stuff.
The daily maximum average recorded last month, 11.8C, was slightly higher than the normal average of 11.4C. The average daily low of -2.9C was also a tad bit warmer than the usual -3.2C.
The “spectacular fall” was a boon for farmers and the majority of harvest was completed a week or two earlier than normal, said Harry Brook, crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s Ag Info Centre in Stettler.
“I was talking to guys and some of them have been farming for quite awhile, and they were saying this was the first harvest where they never had to stop due to weather,” he said.
Warm temperatures and dry conditions resulted in a high quantity and quality crop, he added.
Following their days in the sun, farmers now need a good snow cover and spring rain to dampen parched topsoil if this year’s crop production is to be repeated, Brooker said.
Some Central Alberta counties are also holding out for moisture.
Ponoka County issued a fire ban about 10 days ago because of the dry conditions.
“We’re going to leave it on until we get some precipitation because things are extremely dry at the moment,” said Charlie Curtforth, chief administrative officer.
Dry conditions and wind were to blame for a fire that destroyed roughly seven acres of barley near Rimbey early in October.
While temperatures will begin to dip on Friday, Pearce said conditions will remain relatively dry for at least the next week.