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Sask. predicts above-normal spring run-off

While some areas are dry, there has been above-normal precipitation in the Moose Jaw, Regina and Yorkton areas

Snowfall received so far this year across agricultural Saskatchewan points to an above-normal spring run-off, according to the February forecast from the province’s Water Security Agency.

The forecast takes into account the below-normal rainfall seen in the last half of 2012, which left most of the agricultural areas in Saskatchewan with relatively dry conditions going into the winter season, the agency said.

However, to date, there has been above-normal winter precipitation and well-above-average water equivalent in the snowpack so far, the agency added. In its report, the agency estimated water equivalent in the snowpack on Feb. 1 to be “generally 150 to 200 per cent of average for this time of year” and snowpack generally at about 200 per cent of normal in agricultural areas.

“If the precipitation conditions going forward remain the same as their historical averages, there will be an above-average spring run-off this year.”

If the above-normal winter precipitation trend continues, 2013 run-off will likely be well above average, the agency added. Higher run-off would also follow above-normal precipitation just prior to spring run-off, and/or a fast spring melt.

By comparison, following “extremely high” run-off in 2011, Saskatchewan’s 2012 spring run-off from snowmelt was near normal, refilling most water supply reservoirs, the province said. Rainfall in April and May 2012 across the vast majority of Saskatchewan was “well above normal, keeping most reservoirs near full.”

Summer rainfall in June, July and August 2012 was below normal for the band along the U.S. border, near normal for the central portion of the province’s agricultural area, and above normal for the area north of a line extending from Rosetown to Melfort, the province said.

Fall precipitation in 2012 was then “extremely low” for the area south of Saskatoon, near normal for most areas north of Saskatoon and above normal in an area northwest of Prince Albert and near Meadow Lake.

The province’s Ag Ministry classifies moisture conditions for much of the area south of Saskatoon as “short.” In some areas, particularly in the southwest, topsoil moisture conditions are classified as “very short.” The province’s fall moisture map, however, was produced ahead of significant late-autumn rainfall in the east-central region.

Recorded snowfall from Nov. 1 to Feb. 1 shows winter precipitation above average for most of the agricultural portion of Saskatchewan and well above normal in the Moose Jaw, Regina and Yorkton areas.

Thus, as of Feb. 1, the run-off potential is generally above normal, with pockets of well above normal around Moose Jaw, Regina, Yorkton and Saskatoon, the province said.

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