Canada’s dry: ‘We’re in a new game here’

By Patricia D'Cunha

Winter on the prairies is not usually a time to worry about drought and fire. At least, it wasn’t. But large swaths of the country, from B.C. through Ontario, are currently seeing a lack of snow and water accumulation that is “unprecedented in modern times,” according to an expert.

“2023 [was] one of the hottest years in Canadian history, depending where you are in the country that year,” says John Pomeroy, hydrologist and professor in the department of Geography and Planning at the University of Saskatchewan.

“This was a year that [had] not only a drought, but it was a year that very closely followed the worst-case climate projections for around the year 2100. And so this gives us a taste of what climate change might bring to Canada.”

In one B.C. town, the drought is so severe residents are using bottled water. The Alberta government is already making water restriction plans for the spring and summer to come. The conditions will be perfect for a wildfire season that could eclipse last year’s records. And farmers will need to make choices on which crops to keep, and which to let die. Welcome to the new world, where a large chunk of Canada … simply doesn’t have enough water.

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