March 14, 2018 4:29 pm
Updated: April 17, 2018 7:48 pm

How does Calgary’s snowpack compare to 2013?

WATCH: People impacted by the 2013 floods in Calgary are keeping a close eye on conditions this spring. As Lisa MacGregor reports, while the snowpack is a concern, it's not the only factor to consider.


As the weather warms in Calgary and neighbouring mountain towns, many people are wondering if the city could be in store for a springtime melt like the one that caused massive flooding in 2013.

According to Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), the snowpack this year is similar to the one that the region saw in 2013.

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“Right now we are above average to much above average in some instances,” AEP river forecast engineer David Watson told Global News. “It’s about 110 to 136 per cent according to our recent snow surveys.”

READ MORE: ‘Swimming hole’ of puddles worries Calgary business owners and pedestrians

However, he said that as far as weather goes, it’s looking like a typical spring for Calgary and surrounding areas.

“We’re getting back down to seasonal temperatures, it’s freezing overnight, which should allow for a gradual release of that snowpack at this time.”

Watson went on to say there’s no “right amount” of snow that can cause flooding — it would be the result of a combination of factors, including weather.

“It’s important to remember that for flooding purposes, heavy precipitation is the driver for that, so we’ll have to rely on the weather forecasts as they come up in the summer for that information,” he said.

Watch from March 10: After record-breaking snowfall, warmer temperatures are here and Calgary’s huge snow drifts are starting to melt. As Lauren Pullen reports, now flooding is a big worry.

Global weather specialist Paul Dunphy echoed that statement, saying there were “a number of things that came together in just the right way and at just the right time in 2013.”

READ MORE: Massive melt: Parts of Calgary already dealing with melting snow

“The spring melt was accelerated due to a weather system that stalled over the mountains and foothills and dropped 200 to 300 millimetres of rain on that deep snowpack in less than two days,” he said.

“This, coupled with the fact that the ground was already saturated and unable to absorb any more water, resulted in several rivers being pushed well above their normal size and flow rate.

“A normal or even a rapid snowmelt, without the kind of rain that occurred in 2013, may not produce the same results.”

Watson said the mountains could still have another two more months of snow accumulation.

The city of Calgary is in store for another blast of wintery weather this week, with as much as 12 centimetres of snow expected to fall on Thursday and Friday.

— With files from Jodi Hughes

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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