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Alberta moisture update

 

By Ralph Wright, Manager, Agro-meteorological Applications and Modelling Section

Apr. 28, 2016 - In the wake of the above normal temperatures which prevailed throughout the month of April, spring is early this year and appears to be fully underway. In fact, it is estimated that most of the west-half of Alberta experiences an April this warm on average less than once in 50 years. Thus, with the early retreat of snow packs, and subsequent warmer than normal temperatures, many are looking out over a seemingly dry landscape, which corresponds to well below normal soil moisture reserves across many areas. This is due in part to below normal snow fall accumulations, early melt and a longer than normal snow free period, ahead of "green up."

However, many areas experienced above average to average rainfall accumulations last fall which should help, at least in the short term. Also it's important to note that typically April is a relatively dry month with most areas north of Calgary getting on average less than 25 mm of precipitation over the entire month. While farther south, April marks a transition into the wet season, with average accumulations ranging from 25 mm around Medicine Hat, to upwards of 70 mm across the plains, southwest of Lethbridge. It's generally not until the latter half of May that Alberta's wet season starts, which is delayed even longer as one moves from south to north, with the northern Peace Region not starting their wet season until about the first week in June. Given that it's late April, there is still ample time to receive adequate moisture ahead of this year's growing season.

Read the full report.

 


May 3, 2016
By Alberta Agriculture and Forestry