Water conditions in Saskatchewan heading into freeze-up indicate that above normal spring runoff is possible and flooding similar to spring 2011 is possible, depending on snowpack.
The Water Security Agency released its fall report Dec. 8, and noted that winter precipitation and how the snow melts in spring will also affect runoff.
However, soil moisture levels and wetland storage were at capacity or near capacity as of Nov. 21 and the province is as wet or wetter than it was going into the freeze-up of 2010.
“Given the wet landscape prevailing over much of the province at freeze-up, even a normal snowpack is expected to result in above normal runoff and amplify ongoing problems at closed basin systems, such as at Little Manitou Lake, the Quill Lakes and numerous other waterbodies,” said the report.
The report highlights two areas of particular concern for spring.
In the southwest, an area from Eastend to Moose Jaw and up toward Rosetown, including the Swift Current Creek, lower Moose Jaw River, Brightwater Creek and local tributaries into Lake Diefenbaker, was extremely wet.
The region received above normal summer rain and record or near-record October precipitation.
The second area to watch is in the east-central region, from Wadena toward Cumberland House, including the northern part of the Quill Lakes and Fishing Lake basins, the Red Deer River and the lower Carrot River.
“These areas experienced some of the highest accumulations during the July 8-14 event and continued to receive above normal precipitation into October,” the report noted, referring to a slow-moving summer rain system that hit much of the grainbelt.
In October, Moose Jaw saw 896 percent of normal precipitation and set the record for the wettest month there in 115 years.
Yorkton received 390 percent of normal precipitation for the wettest October in 106 years. Swift Current saw 445 percent for the second wettest in 130 years.
Meadow Lake also set a new monthly record at 295 percent of normal.
Most of the province received more than 200 percent of normal accumulation in October, followed by very little precipitation in the first three weeks of November.
Most models predict near normal precipitation in the province between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28, and warmer than normal temperatures, but long-range forecasts aren’t reliable.
The agency expects to release its first spring runoff outlook in early February.