After the widespread snowfall and cold temperatures of early winter, conditions have moderated, particularly in the south. Precipitation totals for the winter (1 November 2012 - present) have been average to above average north of the Trans Canada Highway, including in the northern Prairie, Aspen Parkland, Boreal Transition Zone (BTZ) and Peace Parkland. In the southern Prairie, winter precipitation is average to below average. Temperatures have been above normal since January.
The first weekend of March, areas south and east of Red Deer were affected by a storm that increased snow cover in the southern Aspen Parkland and the Prairie. Prior to the storm, there was 0-5 cm of snow cover in the southern Prairie from TransCanada Highway to the US border and from Calgary east to the Cypress Hills.
Chinook conditions removed the majority of the early-winter snow cover. Last week, there were actually grass fires in some areas. Now, there is 5-15 cm of snow cover; however, with temperatures forecast to be 10-15 C by the end of this week, the snow will not last long. The southern mountain snowpack is average, and the water supply outlook for the southern rivers, which support the southern irrigation districts, is average.
There is approximately 30-45 cm of snow on the ground in the central and eastern Aspen Parkland, as well as in the northern Prairie and BTZ. In the Peace Parkland, the south has 10-15 cm of snow and the north has 30-40 cm on the ground. Greater amounts of snow are encountered in all areas where snow has drifted into roadside ditches, wetlands and bush areas.
Models from Alberta Agriculture indicate average to below-average soil moisture levels across the province. Thisis indicative of a generally dry fall season after a wet summer. At this point, runoff prospects for the southern Prairie are poor, with the exception of the Cypress Hills area where runoff prospects are fair to good. The recent storm is not anticipated to significantly change spring runoff potential in the southern Prairie. Runoff will likely be fair to good in the northern Prairie, as well as in the southern and western Aspen Parkland. In some areas of the eastern Parkland and northeast Prairie, along the Saskatchewan border, runoff prospects are very good. Good to very good runoff is anticipated in the northern Aspen Parkland and BTZ.
With the exception of the southern Prairie, runoff prospects are average to above average in the agricultural zone of Alberta. While the recent storm is not anticipated to significantly change spring runoff potential in the southern Prairie, going forward spring snow storms in often dramatically improve runoff conditions in southern Alberta. Some paired Canada geese have been observed in the southern Prairie. Typically Canada geese start to move into the Aspen Parkland the first week of March.