WSA releases preliminary spring runoff forecast for Saskatchewan

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WSA releases preliminary spring runoff forecast for Saskatchewan
WATCH: The Water Security Agency’s preliminary outlook for the spring is a below-normal runoff potential for areas affected by drought in 2021 – Feb 9, 2022

A preliminary report from the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) states the spring melt rate is expected to have a significant impact on runoff yields in southern areas of the province.

How that impacts subsoil moisture levels or surface water supplies depends on the speed of the melt, the report states.

Most southern regions experienced very dry conditions last summer and into the fall freeze-up, and a below snowmelt runoff potential is being forecast by the WSA.

“It will be important for the farmers in the southwest and in the southeast as well to see these conditions come back to normal or even above normal to help replenish some of the moisture in the soil. Broadly across the province we’re not expecting demands not to be met,” said WSA communications manager Sean Osmar.

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The prediction is based on conditions at freeze-up, snowfall received to date and the precipitation forecast up to the spring melt.

“Because we were so dry in the fall and we went into freeze-up so dry I think they are predicting a bunch of that snow to be absorbed into the ground so not a great deal of run off in a lot of areas. We’re also seeing that the southwest part of the province that has a lack of snow cover right now or next to none is really in dire straights,” said Ian Boxall, the president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

A slow melt in the south will likely result in the bulk of the snowpack recharging the soil, with a rapid melt likely needed to improve surface water supplies, the WSA said in its report.

However, the WSA said the current snowpack is not enough to satisfy both and that without additional snowfall, surface water supply issues will likely occur in the southwest region.

“We are going to need some showers early in the spring to get crops going and get the hay land going. I just want lots of snow in those areas where we need to get the dugouts filled and all the water reserves filled for all the cattle and the livestock sector,” said Boxall.

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In the central region, an above-normal runoff is forecast with the snowpack above normal, however, flooding is not expected.

A near-normal runoff event is currently forecast for the north.

With eight to 10 weeks of winter remaining, the spring runoff forecast could change, the WSA cautioned.

“The same as any year we’re going to continue to need rain through the growing season. We’re out of reserves now. Some of the snowpack in parts of the province will help with that but in other areas we require rain. You don’t grow a crop on snow. We need rain to grow a crop.” reminded Boxall.

The WSA will issue its first spring runoff forecast in early March.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan farmers hoping for wet winter after drought-ravaged summer'
Saskatchewan farmers hoping for wet winter after drought-ravaged summer

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