Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

January 2004

December 2003 Precipitation

Almost all of Alberta recorded much-below-normal precipitation, with central areas receiving virtually no precipitation (Figure 1). Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta recorded below-normal precipitation (Figure 2). Most December precipitation fell in the mountains and foothills of Southern Alberta however these totals were for the most part much-below normal (Figure 3).

Winter Precipitation (November 1, 2003 to December 31, 2003)

Most of the province so far has received much-below-normal winter precipitation (Figure 4). However in the mountains and foothills of southern Alberta, the Red Deer and Oldman River basins generally recorded below-normal to normal precipitation (Figure 5), while generally normal to above-normal precipitation was recorded in the Bow and Highwood River basins (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 December 18, 2003 is for an equal chance of normal, below-normal or above-normal precipitation for southern Alberta during the January 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