Over the Easter long weekend a major storm event brought between 20 to 60 mm of precipitation to a large area of the province lying generally north of Wetaskiwin, extending well up into to the central Peace Region (see map 1). For many areas north of the Yellowhead Highway, this translated to fresh snow fall accumulations that in places exceeded depths of 30 cm. The areas that received the most precipitation included:
- M.D of Bonneville and much of Lac Labiche County (50 mm).
- Swan Hills and Woodlands county (Upwards of 60 mm)
- The western Peace Region centered on Saddle Hills County (Upwards of 60 mm).
For most of the north-half of the province, March 28th marked an abrupt end to the dry conditions extending back into mid-November 2016.
During the three weeks since March 28, above average moisture has fallen, with many areas north of the Yellowhead Highway, seeing accumulations this great, less than once in 50-years (see map 2). However, of note is the fact that the northern tip of the Peace Region (Fort Vermillion and surrounds) still remains relatively dry, running about 70% of normal year over year (one in 12 to 15 year lows). Lands here would benefit greatly from above average precipitation over the coming growing season.
Historically, in an average year (more than 50% of the time), most areas north or Red Deer are not snow free by April 18th (see map 3). Here, at this time of year, soils are typically frozen or very wet, and unlike last year accessing land with heavy machinery in mid-April is typically not possible. Fortunately, the remaining snowpack is currently melting rapidly, and standing and running water are evident in many areas. Once the soils thaw, standing water should recede faster, provided that normal or drier than normal conditions prevail.
Manager, Agro-meteorological Applications and Modelling Section
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry