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Freeze-up report shows Saskatchewan on the dry side leading to winter

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The Water Security Agency (WSA) dropped a report saying Saskatchewan is on the dry side going into winter.

The Conditions at Freeze-up Report noted that while many areas saw above-normal precipitation during the spring and early summer, late summer and early fall were dry.

Patrick Boyle, a spokesperson with WSA, said the significant snowfall events the province saw this fall have helped.

“The ground wasn’t frozen by then, so what happens is you get that snowfall event, they melt, and those dry areas really just suck up a lot of that moisture,” Boyle said.

He added they like to see those events especially following dry conditions, noting that this helps create the picture for what moisture this coming spring will look like.

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“That’s the start of the picture of what we’re seeing, or what spring runoff 2023 will look like.”

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Boyle says they look at three things as they put together the initial spring outlook for 2023, which is issued in February:

  • Soil moisture levels heading into winter.
  • Snowpack throughout the winter season.
  • How fast the snow melts in the spring, as well as overall moisture levels in spring.

He noted that there wasn’t really one area that saw anything other than dryer conditions, but added that could change with the snowpack.

Read more: Water levels expected to rise in Saskatchewan due to heavy rainfall in Alberta

“There is an expectation from Environment and Climate Change Canada and the U.S. National Weather Service that we work with and look at some of that data to come up with our modelling. And they’re calling for a heavier snowpack this year, so we’re going to keep a close eye on that.”

He noted that many of those pieces still have yet to come together before they can get a strong sense of what the spring runoff outlook will be, and can’t speculate whether Saskatchewan will see flooding or droughts.