After a generally warm and dry fall, wetland water levels receded and there were no major delays to the agricultural harvest. Field reports indicated that the fall flight was good, with little sense of urgency given the extended, mild fall. Winter arrived in early November with below-normal temperatures and significant snowfalls.
In November and December, temperatures were generally below normal. During the same period, regular snowfall — particularly in areas along and west of the Calgary-Red Deer-Edmonton-Grande Prairie corridor — resulted in record accumulations in excess of 200 per cent in some areas. Further east and south, precipitation totals have generally been average to above average since November.
January weather conditions have moderated, with above-average temperatures. Chinook winds have sublimated the snow in the Prairie south of the Trans Canada Highway. Fields are generally snow free, and sheet water is pooling in some fields. North of the highway, warm temperatures and wind have exposed hillsides, but 10-20 cm of snow remains on the ground in the Prairie and the eastern Aspen Parkland. Accumulations have been 30-45 cm in the west, including in the Red Deer-Edmonton-Camrose area. Similar amounts are also found in the Boreal Transition Zone (BTV) and Peace Parklands. Periods of sometimes-heavy freezing rain have occurred in the northern Aspen Parkland, BTZ and Peace Parklands, although greater amounts of snow are encountered in some areas where snow has drifted into roadside ditches, wetland and bush areas. Snowfall has been average in the mountains.
Alberta Agriculture models indicate average soil moisture levels in the southern Prairie and well-below-average levels in much of the remainder of the agricultural zone. The sudden onset of winter insulated the ground. As a result, a limited frost seal occurred at freeze-up. The recent return to below-average temperatures has created an ice crust to the snow, which may offset the lack of frost seal and improve spring runoff.
The usual overwintering waterfowl can be found on urban rivers and other open water areas associated with power plants and dam spillways.