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Flooding rain across Prairies may not be enough to end prolonged drought conditions. Here's why

After last year's record-breaking heat and dry weather, the rain this spring and summer has been welcome to many on the Prairies.

Yet, despite all the rain, drought conditions continue in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

And while it seems like this extra bump of rain is the solution to the drought, is it actually enough? Though it may be hard to believe, the answer is likely no. 

Trevor Hadwen, an agroclimate specialist with Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, says many parts of western Saskatchewan and most of southern Alberta is experiencing moderate to severe drought.

Last summer's drought was the worst in about 70 years for the extent and severity of the dryness, according to Agriculture and Agrifood Canada.

Hadwen says the rain this spring just isn't enough to replenish the moisture loss.

"Just because conditions have been improving doesn't mean that all the drought impacts from last year are resolved," he says.

Pastures in the entire Prairie region are below normal levels in terms of production based on the dry fall period. According to Hadwen, there are also issues with hay and feed shortages.

"The moisture that we've received this spring certainly has improved the situation, but there's still a whole lot of issues in the agricultural sector that we're trying to deal with."

This June has been marked by incredible rainfall across Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Edmonton has seen almost twice its normal rainfall for June so far. 

Calgary saw the Bow River flood with the city declaring a state of local emergency, and in Saskatchewan, intense storms with flooding rains turned parking lots into swimming pools.

So how can we still be talking about drought amid flooding rainfall? Hadwen says that there are a few factors at play. One has to do with how quickly some of this month's rain has fallen.

"If you're looking at water supply recharge, those big rainfall events certainly help," he says 

According to Hadwen, that rainfall will fill dugouts and reservoirs, but for things like soil moisture and soil reserves it's a different story.

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