Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

February 2004

January 2004 Precipitation

Northwestern and central Alberta generally recorded above-normal to much-above-normal precipitation whereas northeastern Alberta recorded below-normal precipitation and Jasper recorded much-below-normal precipitation (Figure 1). In southern Alberta a broad band extending southeast from the Sundre-Red Deer area to the Medicine Hat-Empress area recorded much-above-normal precipitation and the remainder of the south recorded anywhere from normal to much-below-normal precipitation (Figure 2). Heavy snowfall was recorded in the Cypress Hills area southeast of Medicine Hat (Figure 3).

Winter Precipitation (November 1, 2003 to January 31, 2004)

Most of the province has received much-below-normal winter precipitation (Figure 4). However a few locations in southern Alberta recorded above-normal to much-above-normal precipitation, such as High River, Medicine Hat and Empress, and southern mountain areas recorded generally normal precipitation (Figure 5). Winter precipitation totals are shown in Figure 6.

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 7). 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 8). Despite generally good precipitation totals (Figure 9) ,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 issued on December 1, 2003 for the period December through February 2003 is for above-normal precipitation throughout Alberta. The long-lead forecast for March through May is for below-normal precipitation throughout the province. 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 forecast issued on January 15, 2004 is for an equal chance of normal, below-normal or above-normal precipitation for southern Alberta during the February through May period. 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