Little expected from Saskatchewan runoff

MOOSE JAW, SASKATCHEWAN – Residents along the Souris River have learned to closely monitor snowpack conditions in southern Saskatchewan. Snowmelt that drains into the Long Creek, Souris River and Moose Mountain Creek drainages can result in high water conditions, even flooding, throughout the basin. This year, to date, it appears a greater concern will be a lack of water.

Thursday the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency released its first spring runoff outlook for 2018. It cites dry conditions in the fall of 2017 and below normal winter precipitation in saying “a far below normal spring runoff is expected across southern Saskatchewan.”

Like much of central and western North Dakota, 2017 was a year of record dry conditions in some locations in southern Saskatchewan. The drought-like conditions continued into fall and produced dry soils at freeze-up. In addition, many wetlands were dry or holding significantly less water than usual heading into winter.

The WSA cautions that conditions have the potential to change during the final weeks of winter but adds, “it would take well above average precipitation in February, March and April to produce an above average spring runoff within southern areas of the province.”

The outlook concludes that, “with below or well below normal runoff expected, it is anticipated water supply shortages will intensify and expand across southern Saskatchewan.”

A similar statement was issued by North Dakota’s state climatologist. Adnan Akyuz says the lack of snowfall in the state so far this winter makes the state vulnerable for drought as spring approaches. Much of the state remains abnormally dry according to the latest analysis of the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The WSA will issue another spring runoff forecast in early March. The National Weather Service is expected to release a Flood Potential Outlook for the Souris River Feb. 15. The NWS January outlook called for well below runoff to enter the Souris River Basin this spring.