Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

March 2002

Bow River Basin - Water Supply Forecasts

Below-average natural runoff volumes are forecast for the March to September 2002 period in the Bow River basin (Table 4). Current forecasts in the basin range from 70 to 92 % of average. As of March 1, the Bow River basin stands to improve the most in term of water supply compared to last year. Current snowpack at the higher elevations is one and a half times the seasonal maximum total last year with one-quarter of the snow accumulation season remaining. This improvement is evident in forecasts for the higher elevation sub-basins. The March 1 forecasts are marginally higher than last month's forecast for the sub-basins upstream of Calgary. March forecasts for the Elbow and Highwood River basins improved nearly 5% as a result of a snowstorm in the latter part of February, which resulted in above-normal precipitation being recorded during the month. Despite good snow accumulations at the higher elevations, below-average runoff is forecast for the March to September period because of the lack of snow below 6000 feet, particularly those with a small percentage of their drainage basin above 6000 feet (Elbow and Highwood Rivers). However, current runoff volume forecasts for this year are 15 to 20% higher than recorded runoff volumes last summer.

Current forecasted values for the March to September period for the Bow River at Calgary would rank 27th lowest in 84-years of record (1912-95).

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