Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

June 2004

May 2004 Precipitation

Normal to above-normal precipitation was recorded in northern and central Alberta with the exceptions of the Whitecourt, Grande Prairie, and Fort Chipewyan areas, where much-below-normal precipitation was recorded, and the Fort McMurray area, where much-above-normal precipitation was recorded (Figure 1). In southern Alberta, much-above-normal precipitation was recorded in areas south of Calgary and Medicine Hat, and in Drumheller and Empress. Generally normal precipitation was recorded elsewhere in southern Alberta (Figure 2). May precipitation totals are shown in (Figure 3).

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 4), and Empress which recorded above-normal precipitation (Figure 5). Winter precipitation totals are shown in Figure 6.

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 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 May 30, 2004 for the period June 2004 through August 2004 is for below-normal precipitation throughout Alberta. The long-lead forecast for September through November is for above-normal precipitation in northern and central Alberta, and normal precipitation in the south. 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 May 20, 2004 for June though to the end of November 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