(Rural Roots Canada) – Across most of the prairies, it will definitely feel like spring this week, though southern and central Alberta are in for at least one more blast of winter, with snow anticipated late in the week.

All three prairie provinces are preparing for low spring runoff.  Higher than average snowfall in southern Alberta in March came a bit too late to improve drought conditions. Most of the near-record monthly snowfall in the region has already evaporated or melted, leaving little for meaningful drought relief.   Most of the province is expecting below or much below average runoff:

Prairie Weather
Source: Alberta Government

In Saskatchewan, it’s much the same story.  The Water Security Agency predicts a near normal runoff from Saskatoon to Biggar, and in eastern Saskatchewan along the Manitoba boundary.  Elsewhere, a lower than average runoff is forecast:

Prairie Weather
Source: Water Security Agency

And in Manitoba, the focus at this time of year is on flood forecasting, and with low soil moisture, low river levels, and lower lake levels, significant flooding is not anticipated in Manitoba this year. Manitoba’s flood forecasters say there may be isolated flooding due to ice jams, but no major floods are anticipated.   They are not expecting to operate the Red River Floodway at Winnipeg this year.

With no runoff to rescue us from drought this year, any and every drop of rain or flake of snow remains welcome.   Unfortunately for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, there won’t be much.   Southern Alberta, on the other hand, could be in for a significant snow/rain event Wednesday night into Thursday.  In Calgary and north into central Alberta, expect snow.  South of Calgary, rain is more likely.   This map shows the precipitation forecast for early Thursday morning:

Prairie Weather
Source: Environment Canada

In central Alberta, warmer weather Friday and Saturday will change the snow to rain.   It’s not possible yet to pin down rain and snow amounts, but will all be beneficial.

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Temperatures will rise above the melting point across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and most of Manitoba, with sub-freezing temperatures north of the Manitoba lakes.  A rain/snow mix will cross northern Saskatchewan Monday, en route to Manitoba for Tuesday.  Alberta stays dry.


Other than a few showers in southern Manitoba, the prairies will be dry.   And warm.  Temperatures across the prairies will rise above zero Tuesday afternoon, and in Alberta, it will be particularly warm, with 20 degree temperatures possible in central parts of the province, especially around Drumheller, Coronation, and Edmonton.  This will feel like yet another false start to spring, as snow is likely a couple of days hence.


The prairies remain warm, and as the bubble of warmer air moves east,  Alberta cools just a bit, and it’s Saskatchewan’s turn to reach the 20s.   Regina and Saskatoon will be in that warm air mass.  However, there may be just enough instability to generate some convective showers and thundershowers in parts of Saskatchewan in the afternoon.  Meanwhile, Manitoba remains dry with highs in the south ranging from 10-15 degrees.


An atmospheric river that brought rain to the west coast all week will push moisture into central and southern Alberta, and as mentioned above, central Alberta north of Calgary may experience a significant snowfall, with rain expected south of Calgary.  Snow will fall in the area just two days after temperatures reach 20.  The rain and snow will extend into northern Saskatchewan, and Manitoba will stay dry, with high temperatures ranging from 0 in the north to 10 in the Interlake and the south.


Parts of southern Saskatchewan will again have a shot at 20 degrees, while temperatures in the rest of Saskatchewan and Manitoba should reach the low double digits.  The weather in the two provinces will remain dry.   In Alberta, it’s another story.  A SNOWY story.  Temperatures east of Highway 36 will remain warm, but to the west, highs will be near zero at best, and in that cold zone, it will snow all day.   This includes areas  from Coutts to Fort MacMurray.  Where the cold air to the west meets the warmer air to the east, there could be rain, but more likely a mix of rain and snow.   As mentioned above, it’s impossible to say with certainty how much moisture will fall, but it does look significant.

Saturday and Sunday:

A mix of rain and snow continues in southern Alberta, especially from Red Deer southeast into Montana.  The two other prairie provinces stay dry.  Double digit temperatures will warm things up in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but in Alberta, it will be chilly and wet, with temperatures barely above freezing east of the foothills, and near zero over the higher terrain.

COMPARE TO LAST WEEK’S REPORT: Prairie Weather this Week: March 24