Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

April 2003

March 2003 Precipitation

Alberta's mountain and foothill areas plus the plains areas north of Calgary recorded generally normal to much-above-normal precipitation during the month of March (Figure 1). Southeastern Alberta recorded generally much-below-normal precipitation (Figure 2). A snowstorm in late March brought much-above-normal snowfall to the Lac La Biche - Cold Lake area (Figure 3).

Winter Precipitation (November 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003)

Most of the province has received below-normal to much-below-normal precipitation this winter, except for a broad band of normal precipitation extending from the Grande Praire-Peace River district through the Edson and Edmonton regions and into the Red Deer and Calgary areas (Figure 4). Most areas south of Calgary has received below-normal to much-below-normal precipitation (Figure 5). The band of normal precipitation in the Grande Prairie, Peace River and Edmonton areas is evident in the winter accumulation of precipitation map (Figure 6).

Fall Precipitation (September 1 to October 31, 2002)

Below-normal to much-below-normal precipitation was recorded north of Red Deer in the September and October 2002 period, except for the Fort Chipewyan and Peace regions where precipitation was much-above-normal (Figure 7). Areas south of Red Deer recorded above-normal to much-above-normal precipitation (Figure 8). The least precipitation recorded was in east-central Alberta (Figure 9).

Soil moisture going into winter is below-normal to much-below-normal north of Calgary. South of Calgary, soil moisture is generally normal to above-normal, especially west of Lethbridge and east of Medicine Hat. A map of fall soil moisture is available from Alberta Agriculture at:


Long-Lead Precipitation Outlook

Environment Canada's long-lead precipitation forecast issued on March 1, 2003 for the spring period (March through May) is for near-normal precipitation in the province, except the Peace River-Slave Lake-Edson area and areas along the border with the Northwest Territories, where above-normal precipitation is expected. The long-lead forecast for summer (June through August) is above-normal precipitation in the plains areas from Calgary to the Northwest Territories border, and normal precipitation elsewhere. Environment Canada's long-lead precipitation outlook is available from their website located at: http://weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/saisons/index_e.html.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting normal precipitation for the southern portion of the province during the spring (March through May) and summer (June through August). NOAA's long-lead precipitation outlook is available from their website located at: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/90day/.

NOAA indicates that the moderate El Nino affecting us this winter has been steadily weakening over the past few months and is expected to end soon. The strength of this El Nino event was lesser in magnitude than the last major El Nino event, which occurred in the winter of 1997-98. The significance of an El Nino event to the province of Alberta is that winter precipitation is typically below-normal during such events.

For technical enquires about this web page please contact Alberta Environment - Environmental Management Water Management Operations Branch at AENV-WebWS@gov.ab.ca