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Banding Together for Waterfowl

2012 Winter Habitat Conditions in Canada

February Habitat Conditions from DU Canada
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  • Alberta
    photo by DUC
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Prairie Canada

According to Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, "Most of Alberta has been experiencing unusually warm and dry winter weather, with temperatures and snowpack accumulations for some areas at record extremes over the entire period of observation (1961-2011)." Conditions prior to winter were also dry, resulting in average or well-below-average soil moisture in much of the province at freeze-up. Most areas had a poor to fair frost seal.


Precipitation totals for the winter (November 1, 2011 to present) have generally been below normal across the agricultural zone of the province. Precipitation totals varied from <40 to 60 percent of normal in the Prairie region, and a similar precipitation pattern continues into the Aspen Parkland and Boreal Transition Zone (BTZ).

Snow accumulations are slightly higher in the Peace Parkland, where precipitation totals have been 60-85 percent higher than normal.There is currently minimal snow cover in the Prairie region, from north of Hanna to the United States border. Alberta Environment reports average to slightly-above-average snowpack in the southern mountains, which supply southern irrigation districts. In the Aspen Parkland, there is approximately three-to-eight cm of snow on the ground, with accumulations decreasing from west to east. Similar accumulations have occured in the BTZ. The southern Peace Parkland has five to 10 cm of snow on the ground, while the northern portion of the Peace has 20-30 cm.

Temperatures have been average to well above average from September 2011 to present. In December, average monthly temperatures were 5 C above normal. Temperatures have remained warm into January, with daytime highs reaching above freezing in much of the province. Warm, dry conditions are forecast to continue into early February.The usual wintering waterfowl are present on open water areas associated with power plants, rivers and reservoirs. Winter snowfall has been well below normal in most areas of the province, while temperatures have been well above normal. Snowfall amounts vary. Most areas have 1-5 cm of snow on the ground, including key waterfowl areas such as the Missouri Coteau and Thickwood Hills, while the Allan/Dana Hills and Touchwood Hills have 15-30 cm.

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