No April showers, no May flowers...

Dry farms near West Lincoln, Ontario

Took a long drive south-east of the city today, and what I saw was shocking. At first, all I could think was “am I back in Arizona?”. Any farm field which wasn’t hadn’t obviously been irrigated or fallowed for some time had become virtual deserts. Some had a few scraggly shrubs, others were literal sandboxes. One farmer tilling with his tractor set off a cloud of dust which trailing off into the wind for hundreds of metres. A little digging online confirmed my worst fears. According to the Hamilton Conservation Authority, we’ve seen about half of the average rainfall this spring, following an abnormally warm winter with very little snow. They’ve advised people to start conserving water. Provincially, we’re seeing evidence of a very early drought emerging, threatening further damage to the area’s farming communities (Ontario Drought Map – Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada).

Not only was 2007 the worst drought in 50 years, but Hamilton has also been beset with torrential down-pours other years, leading to a huge increase in flooding. This year, the area’s farmers have already been dealt a serious blow when an early spring and a late frost wiped out much of the area’s tender-fruit harvest as the trees were in bloom.

The weather just ain’t what it used to be.