Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

March 2004

February 2004 Precipitation

Almost all of the province recorded much-below-normal precipitation with the expection of some northeastern areas of Alberta which recorded below-normal to normal precipitation (Figure 1). All of southern Alberta recorded much-below-normal precipitation with most stations reporting less than 35% of normal precipitation for the month of February (Figure 2). Southern mountain areas also recoreded much-below-normal precipitation amounts (Figure 3).

Winter Precipitation (November 1, 2003 to February 29, 2004)

Most of the province received much-below-normal winter precipitation (Figure 4). However a few locations in southern Alberta recorded normal precipitation, such as High River, Medicine Hat and Pincher Creek, with Empress recording much-above-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 March 1, 2004 for the period March 2004 through May 2004 is for normal precipitation in most of Alberta, but below-normal precipitation in east-central areas and above-normal precipitation in the Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan areas. The long-lead forecast for June through August 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 February 19, 2004 is for an equal chance of normal, below-normal or above-normal precipitation for southern Alberta during both the March through May and June through August periods. 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