Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

February 2002

Fall Precipitation (September 1 to October 31, 2001)

Fall Precipitation was below-normal to much-below-normal in most areas of the province (Figure 1) with southern areas recording much-below-normal values (Figure 2). As a result of the low precipitation totals (Figure 3), soil moisture conditions remain very dry in most areas of the province. A map showing soil moisture conditions in the province is available from the Alberta Agriculture website located at:

January 2002 Precipitation

Precipitation in January was much-below-normal in areas north of Red Deer with the exceptions of Grande Prairie and Jasper, which recorded below-normal values (Figure 4). Areas south of Red Deer received near normal precipitation except for the Milk River and Medicine Hat areas, which recorded much-below-normal totals (Figure 5). The only area of the province that received above-normal precipitation was in the foothills and mountain region west and southwest of Calgary (Figure 6).

Winter Precipitation (November 1, 2001 to January 31, 2002)

Winter precipitation is near normal west of a line extending from High Level in northern Alberta to Jasper. Precipitation is also near normal in south-central Alberta around the areas of Red Deer, Calgary and Brooks (Figure 7).

In the rest of the province, precipitation over the winter season remains below-normal to much-below-normal, particularly in southern Alberta (Figure 8). Significant January precipitation around Red Deer and Calgary brought winter precipitation totals to near normal values (Figure 9).


Long-Lead Precipitation Outlook

Environment Canada's long-lead precipitation forecast (issued December 1, 2001) for the December to February period indicates above-normal precipitation in the northern third of the province, normal precipitation in central areas, and below-normal in the southwestern portion of the province. The forecast for the spring period (March to May) is for above-normal precipitation in eastern areas of Alberta and normal precipitation elsewhere. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting near normal precipitation from February through the spring (March to May) and summer (June through August) periods.

NOAA is reporting that near neutral ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) conditions are expected for the next few months. Current forecasts indicate that a weak to moderate warm event (El Nino) will form later this year, however it will not likely effect large scale weather patterns until at least this fall or early winter. The significance of an El Nino event to the province of Alberta is that winter precipitation is typically below-normal during such events. The last major El Nino event occurred in the winter of 1997-98.

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