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Prairie weather part of long-term changing climate: expert

Heavy weekend rain has led to multiple states of emergency in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and one expert says there’s evidence it’s part of a growing climate change trend.

Dr. John Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change at the University of Saskatchewan, said multi-day rain events have gone up 50 per cent since the 1940s.

He said there hadn’t been rainfall-induced flooding in Smith Creek, near the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border until 2012 and the same kind of event is happening now.

“Some flooding in 2010, massive flooding in 2011, big flooding in 2012, 2013 is a break and now we’re back,” the hydrology professor said. “The farmers there must be just scratching their heads, saying this is nuts.”

He said with frontal systems moving up from the United States, along with less snow and more rain, scientists have tied it into shifts in the jetstream, allowing the prairie climates to mimic wetter areas.

The problem is prairie infrastructure wasn’t built for that kind of weather and while provincial governments have been proactive, it’s hard to keep up.

“We’ll probably see another drought in the next few years. They always come, but then after that, probably a bit wetter again,” he said. “It’s important to put in the long-term investments to prepare for this.”

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