EDMONTON - Feb 26/19 - SNS -- Alberta may get warmed around the middle of March, but snow pack is below normal in several parts of the province says Ralph Wright, manager of the agro-meteorological applications and modelling section with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
"Since the beginning of February, this winter has been exceptionally cold across the province," says Wright. "During the first week of February, most of the northern half of the province experienced temperatures dipping well below -40 C.
"Temperatures have moderated slightly but remained cold since that time. Many locations experienced many hours at or below -30 C over the first three weeks of February."
Wright says that over the past week or so, the arctic air mass that has been responsible for well below normal temperatures across most of the Prairies has modified slightly with temperatures moderating somewhat. "Unfortunately, it may take at least until the end of the first week in March before we see a return to normal conditions, and this prediction is not certain."
"Historically normal daytime highs for March 1 range from 2 C across the south, -3 to -4 C through the central areas, and drop down to -6 to -7 C up around Fort Vermillion."
"The good news is that on average, we see a marked shift in the daily maximum temperatures across the province on or about March 8. Then through mid March, average daily highs remain near 4 to 7 C across the south, 0 C through central regions and -2 to -3 C across the extreme north. This will last until about March 25 when we will see another major shift in the normal temperatures. From that point, we will see a steady uptrend through April with most areas experiencing average daily highs in the 13 to 14 C range by April 30."
Wright says that snow pack accumulations as of February 1 have been at least near normal for agricultural lands north of the Yellowhead Highway with the exception being the central Peace Region. "There they are below normal with some lands north of Manning estimated to have snow packs this low on average less than once in 12 years."
"Through central parts of the province, snow packs are generally below normal and across the southern portion of the province they are near normal. However, reporting on southern snow packs can be difficult as they are typically ephemeral, and it is not uncommon to see bare ground at this time of year."
"Since November 1, 2018, most areas have seen near normal moisture accumulations, with the exceptions of the central Peace Region and some areas across the southern half of the province. Notably a large stretch of foothills lying west of Calgary, stretching down as far south as the Crowsnest Pass has experienced well below normal over winter moisture accumulations."
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