Weekend snowfall provides temporary relief for Lethbridge farmers, fire risk
Many Lethbridge residents may be counting themselves lucky that southern Alberta didn’t receive the amount of snow that other parts of the province did over the weekend.
With three to five centimetres of snow in the city, it was a far cry from the upwards of 30 cm that fell in other areas on Saturday night.
Farmers and firefighters welcomed the precipitation and even wished that there had been more.
“We’re not complaining,” said farmer Rod Lanier. “We’re very happy with this much moisture. We are hoping for more. We would consider ourselves behind in precipitation.”
Lanier’s operation yields four crops — lentils, durum, flax and hemp — and seeding has already started.
“This late April storm has been great,” he said. “We thought that there was more moisture coming because the old-timers used to tell us that three months after a fog we would always get precipitation, but it didn’t occur this year, so we were starting to get nervous.
“This moisture at this time of year is great for what we’ve already got seeded.”
Lanier said that many in the farming community are excited for the potential of more rain, or even more snow, in the forecast later this week.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It helps with germinating the seeds that are already in the ground, reduces fire hazard, greens up the grass for pastures and cattle in the area… so very welcome, very needed, let’s just hope that there’s more to come.
“It’s always more fun to be farming with moisture than in the really dry years,” he added. “If it stays dry, it means that crops will yield less; farmers will probably start to spend less on inputs like further fertilizing or fungicides.”
The fire risk in southern Alberta was temporarily aided by the weekend storm, but Coalhurst Fire Chief Mathew Conte said it won’t last long.
“The snow and that did help out a little bit, reduced it for a few days, but we’ll find that it wasn’t quite enough for what we were expecting to get down here,” Conte said.
Winds in the Lethbridge area reached speeds of 85 kilometres per hour on Saturday night, and Conte said if those gusts continue, they will increase the fire risk.
“As a couple days of wind picks up here, we will probably find it will dry up pretty quick, and that elevated fire risk will still remain in effect,” he said.
Conte said that his crew will be keeping an eye on the forecast. Potential showers at the end of the week could mean a decrease in fire risk.
For now, seeding season continues, as farmers cross their fingers for more rain.
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