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Moisture Update - March 24, 2024

365-Day Precipitation Accumulations

Map 8: While 90-day trends are pointing to a near normal moisture regime across at least the southern third of the province (Map 3), serious moisture deficits still remain in this area (Map 8). Across the southern parts of the province approximately 20-25% of the total average yearly accumulations fall during the November to March period. Therefore, recent 90 and 180-day trends are not enough to overcome the deep moisture deficits (at least once in 50-year lows) that have been developing over the longer term. At the very least the recent moisture is a promising trend that we all hope will continue.

Elsewhere, year-over-year deficits are present across most of Alberta's growing areas and throughout most of the northern forests, with large areas in the extreme northwest and northeast approaching once in 50-year lows (Map 7).  This is of great concern to the Province's firefighters, as evidenced by an early official start to the wildfire season.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is observing that the current El Niño event, sometimes responsible for warm/dry winters, appears to be weakening, with ENSO neutral conditions to potentially develop by April - June. By June - August, there is a 55% chance that we may see a shift to a La Niña, sometimes responsible for cool and wet conditions. It’s very difficult to predict with certainty what this impact will be on moisture and temperature regimes across Alberta. However, many do surmise that it is likely to lead to instability in the Jet Stream that may reduce the likelihood of a long hot and dry spell. As we break out of March and head into the wetter months of the year ahead, near to above normal moisture will be required to sustain crop growth. A long stretch of above normal moisture and/or an extreme wet spell will be needed to help replenish dwindling surface water supplies.

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