Parts of southern Alberta could face flooding this spring, depending on how the weather plays out in the next few weeks.
As of April 13, a spring runoff advisory was in place for the region, given that temperatures are slated to rise and that snowpack has been higher than normal. The advisory said ponding in low-lying areas is possible and that small creeks could rise too high and flood adjacent land.
The potential of flooding will largely depend on how fast the snow melts and how the soil thaws, as well as how much rain comes with those melts, said Trevor Hadwen, an agroclimate specialist with Agriculture Canada.
While he said the risk is generally low, an area southeast of Calgary could be vulnerable if there is a quick melt. Some snowpacks in the area are carrying 100 millimetres of water, he said, and there is lots of snowpack in the mountains, which will melt into the river system.
However, he said that if the weather returns to normal and things melt slowly, land in southern Alberta will be able to suck in most of the moisture because it has been so dry following last year’s drought.
High of plus 16 degrees today in the neighbourhood. Still lots of ice to melt and snow in areas. #flooding #yellowlake #irrigtaioncanal #SMRID #springmelt2018 #countyoffortymile #ice #agriculture #farmlife #southernalberta #prairieproblems @Countyof40Mile #sunshine pic.twitter.com/nZP7Y05T77
— Kim Cameron (@Chimbo43) April 20, 2018
“In terms of agriculture impacts, I don’t anticipate a whole lot,” he said.
Some farmers in the area have taken note of potential flooding, but they’re not overly concerned at this point.
Some are optimistic that they’ll have enough water for irrigation this time to get them through the growing season. Last year, some reservoirs ran out in early October due to the dryness.
“As it warms up, there might be small spot flooding in smaller fields. I don’t see any large scale flooding with the amount of snow we have right now because it was so dry,” said Gary Stanford, who farms near Magrath and is vice-chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission.
However, the Taber area in southern Alberta already saw overland flooding this year.
As of April 13, a local state of emergency for the area remained in effect. Officials have been working to build berms and pumping locations, as well as clear culverts in preparation for the thaw.
While the flooding hasn’t affected residential areas, it has managed to turn some fields into ponds.
“That recent flooding has been a concern,” said David Bishop, who farms near Barons and is a director with the Alberta Barley Commission.
“If we had a good amount of rain with snow in the ground, there could be flooding. It’s very weather dependent.”