Alberta’s incoming rains are good for farmers, unlikely to cause major flooding, says meteorologist | CBC News

Alberta’s seasonal ‘June monsoon’ is expected to kick into gear Monday afternoon, with Environment Canada issuing heavy rain warnings across much of southern Alberta, including Banff National Park, Kananaskis and Calgary.

According to a special weather statement released Sunday morning by Environment Canada, up to 100mm of rain could fall by Wednesday, particularly in the foothills and eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Current projections place the greatest amounts of rainfall near Kananaskis.

Kyle Brittain, Alberta bureau chief for the Weather Network, said while this week’s extended rains could push the province above its typical June monthly average, he doesn’t expect it to cause serious flooding.

That’s because historically dry conditions in the southern part of the province have led to a lower-than-average water table, Brittain said, leaving substantial space in the ground for moisture to absorb.

“[The] exceptional drought in southern Alberta, which actually gives us a good buffer against major flooding right now.”

For Alberta farmers who fear a repeat of last year’s drought, Brittain said the heavy rains will bring some reassurance.

“It looks like it’s going to be a million dollar rain for agricultural producers in southern Alberta. So it could really turn things around for our growing season.”

The conditions that led to major flooding in parts of the province in 2013 were caused by both increased rainfall (more than 300mm in parts of the province) and nearby concurrent storms, Brittain said.

“If we have another big storm after this one, then we need to start looking at flooding concerns.”

For now, Brittain said he expected some swollen rivers, with high levels of water reaching Calgary from the Bow and Elbow rivers.

city ​​making preparations

On Sunday, the city of Calgary issued a navigational advisory for the Elbow River, due to higher expected flow rates. According to the release, Calgarians are advised against boating and all other water activities on the Elbow River until conditions improve.

Frank Frigo, watershed planning manager for the city’s water resources department, said they are preparing for extended rains by lowering water levels in reservoirs upstream on the Bow River and at Glenmore Reservoir. to increase storage capacity in case of high flows.

While the city said it doesn’t expect major flooding, it advised Calgarians still need to take precautions, including diverting rainwater away from homes by properly placing downspouts, removing valuables from basements in low-lying communities and being careful around riverbanks, especially on the river bank. roads

According to the City Council’s Emergency Management Committee, flood mitigation efforts in Calgary beginning in 2022 have reduced potential future flood damage by 55%, or an average of $90 million per year.

These include improvements to Glenmore Dam, the implementation of flood barriers, 24-hour monitoring of weather and river conditions, and increased community outreach regarding flood preparedness.

Frigo said these measures, in addition to the city’s investments in more extensive climate modeling programs, have equipped it to better withstand more extreme weather events.

“We have much better tools to be able to try to interrogate, look into the future and understand the range of possibilities.”

Accumulated snow precautions

Higher-than-average snowpack levels for this time of year in the Rockies, due to heavy winter snowfall and a fairly cool spring, have also raised concerns of flooding from melting snow.

But John Pomeroy, director of the global water futures program at the University of Saskatchewan, told CBC News that he doesn’t expect the incoming rains to exacerbate conditions drastically.

“It takes a heavy rain event with snow melt to really trigger the size of flooding that we had in 2013,” Pomeroy said.

“We have some heavy rain [forecasted] … that will surely cause some high flows. But it’s nothing like the kind of flooding we would have seen in 2013.”

Pomeroy said large amounts of snowpack in the mountains mean people should be on high alert for avalanches, and he advised recreational users to avoid river-related activities at this time.

“The water is entering at zero degrees Celsius in the river and it will be fast [moving]. So [plan] travel very, very carefully and expect rapid changes this time of year.”

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