Weather Forecast: Hot and Dry with Lots of Smoke

Written by Sarah Yates
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sarah YatesWe are off to a good start in Manitoba. As of May 9th we’ve completed stratums 38 and 39 and have moved over to southeastern Saskatchewan to begin stratum 35. Conditions are looking a lot drier since the last time I flew the survey in 2013 and 2014 (Manitoba was experiencing flooded conditions then). In fact, temperatures have been in the 70-80s, seasonal wetlands are dry and/or drying up and even the semi-permanent wetlands are below their margins. Also, smoke from the intense forest fires to the northwest in Fort McMurray, Alberta, has settled into the area. While it hasn’t limited our surveys, we do fly through it on a daily basis and it has affected both the visibility and air quality of the survey area. It is quite dry across the prairies and we are in desperate need of some spring rain to lower the fire danger and improve waterfowl habitat.

My observer this year is Jeff Drahota (USFWS), a wildlife biologist, out of Rainwater Basin WMD in Nebraska. Jeff has years of experience studying waterfowl populations and wetlands, as well as a lot of aerial survey experience. He has a great eye for both the waterfowl and the wetland conditions in the area.

Left to right: Jeff Drahota and Sarah Yates. Just in case you get confused. Photo Credit: Jeff Drahota, USFWS.

Left to right: Jeff Drahota and Sarah Yates. Just in case you get confused. Photo Credit: Jeff Drahota, USFWS.

Sunrise and smoke. Photo Credit: Sarah Yates, USFWS.

Sunrise and smoke. Photo Credit: Sarah Yates, USFWS.

Semi-permanent wetlands are holding water but are also below margins. Seasonal wetlands are dry and/or receding quickly. Photo Credit: Sarah Yates, USFWS.

Semi-permanent wetlands are holding water but are also below margins. Seasonal wetlands are dry and/or receding quickly. Photo Credit: Sarah Yates, USFWS.

The awesome crew at Maple Leaf Aviation.  Left to right: Dave Wall, Christine Johansen, Karen Wall, Grant Wall, Luke Schwindt, and Jarrett Beghin. Photo Credit: Sarah Yates, USFWS.

The awesome crew at Maple Leaf Aviation. Left to right: Dave Wall, Christine Johansen, Karen Wall, Grant Wall, Luke Schwindt, and Jarrett Beghin. Photo Credit: Sarah Yates, USFWS.