Home LATEST NEWS Why is it sunnier on the Prairies?

Why is it sunnier on the Prairies?

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A drier climate

First, the prairie climate is drier, which is part of the reason why Alberta and Saskatchewan get more hours of sunshine.

Regions near large bodies of water, such as British Columbia, have much more cloud cover and precipitation due to the moisture-rich air.

Vancouver, for example, receives an average of 1,189 millimeters of precipitation per year, while Edmonton receives an average of 446 millimeters of precipitation per year and Calgary, 419. Regina and Saskatoon receive 390 millimeters and 354 millimeters, respectively.

So without that constant cloud cover and wet weather, the Prairies get more sunshine.

The phenomenon of rain shadow

Alberta and Saskatchewan are provinces far removed from any source of humidity. They are bordered by mountains to the west and plains to the east.

This geographic feature gives rise to another of the reasons for the abundance of sun in the Prairies: the phenomenon of rainfall shade.

Depending on the region, especially near the mountains, we will have an area where we have very little precipitation, [par rapport] to neighbors who are not very far, for examplesays Natalie Hafell, warning awareness meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada.

When the moisture-laden air from the Pacific hits the Rockies, it rises and cools. The moisture it contains condenses, then turns to rain or snow. When this air descends downwind on the Alberta side, it is devoid of moisture, resulting in less precipitation.

[Le phénomène d’ombre pluviométrique], it is an area associated with a wind direction where one would not expect to have precipitation, explains the meteorologist.

The jet stream also plays a role

The jet stream, a corridor of very strong winds that travels through the upper atmosphere at great speed, plays a vital role in our weather systems.

We can think of the jet stream as a difference between cold air and hot air […], but also as the direction that the depressions will follow, says Natalie Hafell.

So when storms do occur, they move quickly, as the jet stream often generates a large peak of high pressure. The air inside descends, which generates less cloud cover, or even no cloud cover.

With information from Christy Climenhaga

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