Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

March 2005

Mountain Water Supply Forecast Summary

As of March 1, 2005, natural runoff volumes are forecast to be below to much below average for the Milk and Oldman River basins, below average to average for the Bow River basin, and near average for the Red Deer and North Saskatchewan River basins for the March to September 2005 period (Table 1). Forecasts decreased since last month's forecasts in the Milk, Oldman and Bow River basins, but increased slightly in the Red Deer and North Saskatchewan River basins.

Although snowpack in the Oldman and Milk River basins was severely depleted in January, future precipitation will heavily influence the March-September forecast runoff due to improved soil moisture conditions. This situation results in a wide range of possibilities. If minimal precipitation occurs during the coming months, near record low volumes are possible. Conversely, above normal precipitation could yet result in average runoff volumes. Also, reservoirs were able to store some of the early runoff volume in January, and most are currently at above average levels.

Remaining mountain snow accumulations are generally much below average in the Oldman River basin. Mountain snowpack conditions elsewhere are generally below average in the Bow River basin, average in the North Saskatchewan River basin, and above average in the Red Deer River basin.

March will be the first month of the measured runoff season, and will provide a better insight into basin conditions.

These forecasts assume that precipitation over the summer period will be normal. Precipitation will have a major impact on the summer water supply forecast between now and the end of September. Streamflow volume forecasts will be updated monthly until mid-summer. Check our Forecaster's Comments throughout the month for updated information regarding runoff conditions.

For technical enquires about this web page please contact Alberta Environment - Environmental Management Water Management Operations Branch at AENV-WebWS@gov.ab.ca