Posted by: Vicki Burns | July 6, 2010

Wild Weather Continues Across the Prairies – Yorkton Flooded, Assiniboine River Valley Flood Warnings

The extreme rainfall, severe thunderstorms and flash floods just seem to keep on coming this summer. There are flood warnings for much of the Assiniboine River Valley and the city of Yorkton, Saskatchewan found itself under several feet of water on July 2. 130 people had to be evacuated from their homes, some in canoes and hundreds of homes have been damaged. 

image of person riding bike through flooded Yorkton street

Intense rainstorm floods Yorkton , July 2, 2010 photo by Ian Berg

 

 The Premier of Saskatchewan  Brad Wall, announced that a cabinet committee has been formed to co-ordinate the province’s response to “unprecedented flooding faced by Saskatchewan people.” Premier Wall is quoted as saying “It’s unbelievable that much rain could fall in that short a span on a part of the province that’s already saturated. All of Saskatchewan’s like a big sponge that’s full right now, there’s no place for water to go.” 

All of these unusual events have really got me wondering what is causing such intense rainfall. I did a little research and came across this paper Global Warming and the Hyrologic Cycle which seems to offer a relatively easy to understand explanation for what we’re seeing this summer. As the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases, the surface of the oceans is warming. This in turn leads to a larger vapor-pressure difference between the sea surface and the adjacent atmosphere. This increases the evaporation rate, and hence the heavy rainfall we’re experiencing. Check out the article for a more thorough explanation. 

So, what can we do about all of this? I’m really interested in hearing from you if you have ideas. In future blogs I’ll be writing about some interesting work being done to improve the water holding capacity of our land, wetland reconstruction. But with all the disasters occurring around us this summer, it seems like we’d better get moving on adaptations to these changing weather patterns.

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