Water Supply Outlook February 2015

Updated: February 6, 2015

Mountain runoff forecasts (natural volumes for March to September 2015)

Milk River basin
  • Above average for Milk River at Western Crossing
  • Average for Milk River at Milk River and Milk River at Eastern Crossing
Oldman River basin
  • Below average for the St. Mary River and Waterton River
  • Slightly below average for the Belly River
  • Average for the Oldman River near Brocket and Oldman River at Lethbridge
Bow River basin
  • Slightly below average
Red Deer River basin
  • Below average for the Red Deer River at Dickson Dam and Red Deer River at Red Deer
North Saskatchewan River basin
  • Slightly below average for the Bighorn Reservoir
  • Average for the Brazeau Reservoir and North Saskatchewan River at Edmonton

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 February 1, 2015:

  • Oldman River basin: ranging from 44 to 89% of normal
  • Bow River basin: ranging from 63 to 112% of normal
  • Red Deer, North Saskatchewan, Athabasca River basins: ranging from 93 to 123% of normal in the Athabasca River basin and ranging from 71 to 110% of normal in the North Saskatchewan River basin
  • Upper Peace River basin in British Columbia: as indicated in British Columbia's Snowpack and Water Supply Outlook

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

Plains snowpack

  • Snow course measurements were taken in mid-January in the Cypress Hills. Detailed information on plains area snowpack will be available in March as snow course measurements will be conducted near the start of the month.
  • Environment Canada map of satellite estimation of plains snow water equivalent (SWE) as of February 1, 2015 is shown here.
  • 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 January 31, 2015 is available here.

Long Lead Precipitation Outlooks

Environment Canada (issued on January 31, 2015): above normal temperature for the mountains and foothills of Alberta and normal temperature for the rest of the province. Above normal precipitation from southern to central Alberta and normal precipitation for the rest of the province during the February to April 2015 period.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (issued on January 15, 2015): An equal chance of below normal, normal or above normal precipitation for extreme southern Alberta. Above normal temperature for extreme southern Alberta for February through April 2015.

Climate indicators: The NOAA reported on February 5, 2015 that there is an approximately 50-60% chance of El Niño within the late Northern Hemisphere winter and early spring, with ENSO-neutral slightly favoured thereafter.

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 and Sustainable Resource Development
Phone: (780) 427-6267