Water Supply Outlook April 2014

Updated: April 10, 2014

Mountain runoff forecasts (natural volumes for March to September 2014)

Milk River basin

Oldman River basin
  • Average for the Oldman River near Brocket
  • Above average for the St. Mary River, Belly River, Waterton River and Oldman River at Lethbridge
  • Average for Oldman River at Brocket, slightly above average for St. Mary River and Oldman River at Lethbridge, and above average for the Belly and Waterton Rivers for April to September
  • March recorded volumes are below average for the Belly and Waterton Rivers, above average for the Oldman River near Brocket and at Lethbridge, and much above average for the St. Mary River

Bow River basin
  • Above average except average for Highwood River
  • Above average for the Bow Rivers at Banff and Calgary, Cascade Reservoir, Spray River and Kananaskis River for April to September, except average for the Elbow and Highwood Rivers
  • March recorded volumes are slightly below average to much above average

Red Deer River basin

North Saskatchewan River basin

Precipitation can have a major impact on water supply between now and the end of September. The forecasts above assume that precipitation over the remainder of the winter period and through the summer will be normal. The range of possible precipitation scenarios is large however, and as a result, probable range forecasts and a minimal precipitation forecast of natural runoff volume are also provided for each individual basin. Since more information becomes known over time, forecast ranges will narrow. Streamflow volume forecasts are updated monthly from February to May, and again in July.

Check our Forecaster's Comments throughout the month for updated information regarding runoff conditions.

Mountain snowpack

Snow accumulations measured in the mountains as of April 1, 2014:

  • Oldman River basin: Much above average.
  • Bow River basin: Above average to much above average.
  • Red Deer, North Saskatchewan, Athabasca River basins:

    Much above average for the Red Deer River basin.

    Much above average for the North Saskatchewan River basin.

    Much above average for the Athabasca River basin.

  • Upper Peace River basin in British Columbia: as indicated in British Columbia's Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletin

Mountain snowpack is an important source of water supply to reservoirs in the spring. Accumulation at this time of year typically accounts for nearly three-quarters of the seasonal total.

Plains Spring Snowmelt Runoff Forecasts

Conditions are variable across the province, please refer to the map in the Plains Runoff Forecast section of our Maps and Data Summaries webpage.

Plains snowpack

  • Map of Snow course measurements taken at the end of March and the beginning of April in many areas of central and northern Alberta.
  • Environment Canada map of satellite estimation of plains snow water equivalent (SWE) as of April 6, 2014 is shown here. The SWE in the central portion of the province was overestimated due to melting and refreezing activities.
  • Alberta Agriculture publishes maps of modelled plains snow accumulations and accumulations as compared to normal.


Contoured maps of precipitation amounts and as a percent of normal for the past month and for current and recent seasons are available here. Maps of precipitation amounts for the most recent day, week and month to date are available here.

Soil Moisture

Alberta Agriculture models soil moisture for non-mountainous, agricultural areas of Alberta. Modelled soil moisture compared to average as of March 31, 2014 is available here.

Long Lead Precipitation Outlooks

Environment Canada (issued on March 31, 2014): Temperatures and precipitation are forecast to be normal for the April through June 2014 period.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (issued on March 20, 2014): An equal chance of below normal, normal or above normal precipitation and temperatures in the province except for below normal temperatures in southern Alberta from April to June, 2014.

Climate indicators: The NOAA reported on April 10, 2014 that ENSO-neutral condition is favoured for the Northern Hemisphere in spring 2014, the chances of El Niño increase during the remainder of the year.

Note that forecasting weather for such a long time period into the future is very difficult, and so the historical accuracy has been variable, dependent on location and time period, and is often low, more so for precipitation than temperature. Environment Canada provides an assessment of their forecast method's historical accuracy on their website.

Reservoir storage

Water storage volumes in the major irrigation and hydroelectric reservoirs of the Milk, Oldman, Bow, Red Deer North Saskatchewan, and Athabasca River basins is updated each weekday and is available in the Provincial Reservoir Storage Summary.


Background information on the Water Supply Outlook is available in Frequently Asked Questions

Media Contact:
Communications Division, Alberta Environment
Phone: (780) 427-6267