Ralph Wright, manager of AF’s agro-meteorological applications and modelling section, analyzes the latest data as of March 13.
“February and the first part of March were extremely cold and generally snowier than normal,” explains Wright. “It was in sharp contrast to the well above average temperatures that dominated through December and January. Looking back as far as 1961, the province south of Red Deer was estimated to have a February this cold on average less than once in 50 years (see map 1). North of Red Deer, a February this cold was estimated to occur less than once in 25-years, grading down to less than once in six years for the extreme northern Peace Region.”
Wright says that the coldest air settled in during the first week of February with many areas north of Red Deer dipping below -40 C (see map 2). “Few areas in the province escaped -30 C temperatures during this intense cold snap. Many locations across the province, north of Olds, experienced at least a dozen nights in February where the temperatures dipped below -30C as day time high struggled towards the -20 C mark.”
“Over winter snow accumulations as of March 13, 2019 were generally at least near normal across about 70% of the agricultural areas (see map 3). Below normal accumulations prevail across parts of east central Alberta and the north half of the Peace Region.”
“Snow water contents range from upwards of 150 mm through parts of the extreme southern and eastern Peace Region (see map 4),” he says. “North of the Yellowhead Highway, snow water contents range from 60 to 125 mm. Through central parts of the province where snow packs are below normal, the snow water range is between 30 to 40. Across the south, snow packs are disappearing rapidly, and as March 13 generally held less than 30 mm of water.”
To put it in perspective, typically the wettest month of the year is in June with average rainfall totals ranging from 60 mm across the Special Areas to upwards of 100 mm along the foothills and in through the extreme southern portions of the Peace Region.”
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