Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

August 2004

July 2004 Precipitation

West central Alberta recorded above-normal to much-above-normal precipitation, as did Fort Chipewyan, while normal precipitation was recorded in east central Alberta and much-below-normal precipitation fell in the High Level and Fort McMurray areas (Figure 1). In southern Alberta, below-normal precipitation was recorded in the mountains and at Rocky Mountain House, Calgary, Brooks and Medicine Hat, while Coronation recorded normal precipitation and most other areas recorded above-normal to much-above-normal precipitation (Figure 2). July precipitation fell predominantly in central Alberta, most notably in the Swan Hills area (Figure 3).

Summmer Precipitation (May 1, 2004 to July 31, 2004)

Much of Alberta recorded near-normal to above-normal summer precipitation, however below-normal to much-below precipitation fell in the High Level and Fort McMurray areas, and Grande Prairie received much-above-normal precipitation (Figure 4). In southern Alberta, areas south and west of a line from the foothills near Calgary to the Cypress Hills area recorded above-normal to much-above-normal precipitation, except Del Bonita which recorded normal precipitation. Areas to the north and east of this line generally recorded below-normal to normal precipitation, with the exceptions of Empress and Drumheller which recorded much-above-normal precipitation (Figure 5). Summer precipitation has been highest in west central Alberta (Figure 6).

Winter Precipitation (November 1, 2003 to April 30, 2004)

The entire province recorded below-normal to much-below-normal winter precipitation except Peace River and Cold Lake which recorded near-normal precipitation (Figure 7), and Empress which recorded above-normal precipitation (Figure 8). Winter precipitation totals are shown in Figure 9.

Soil moisture at the end of this period, May 1, 2004, was measured by Alberta Agriculture. Most of the province's soil moisture is below-average, with areas east of Calgary and Drumheller much-below-average. Average soil moisture conditions exist in the area between Peace River and Slave Lake, in a narrow band through Edmonton, and along the Saskatchewan border from the Lloydminster area north towards Fort McMurray. Soil moisture conditions are drier than last spring, but not as dry as in 2000 or 2001. A map of Alberta Agriculture's findings is available here.


Fall Precipitation (September 1 to October 31, 2003)

Generally, precipitation recorded in both northwestern and central Alberta varied from near-normal to much-below-normal, while much-above-normal precipitation was recorded in northeastern Alberta (Figure 10). In southern Alberta, precipitation totals generally ranged from near-normal to much-above-normal except at Pincher Creek, Lethbridge, Coronation, Drumheller and the Bighorn Dam where much-below-normal precipitation was recorded (Figure 11). Despite generally good precipitation totals (Figure 12) ,soil moisture conditions are very dry in most areas of the province, since late summer was generally very dry and much of the autumn precipitation fell as snow. The only area having average fall soil moisture is in east-central Alberta, along the Saskatchewan border. A map showing soil moisture conditions in the province is available from the Alberta Agriculture website through this link.

Long-Lead Precipitation Outlook

Environment Canada's long-lead precipitation forecast for Alberta issued on August 1, 2004 for the period August through October 2004 is for below-normal precipitation except in the upper Athabasca and Smoky River basins, where normal precipitation is forecast. 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) long-lead precipitation forecasts issued on July 15, 2004 for August though October 2004 is for an equal chance of normal, below-normal or above-normal precipitation for southern Alberta. NOAA's long-lead precipitation outlook is available from their website located at: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/90day/.

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