May 26th, 2017

Snowfall precip below normal for city

By Mabell, Dave on January 11, 2017.

Madelynn Turner, 4, slides down the giant snow pile at Fleetwood Bawden School on Tuesday afternoon. Herald photo by Tijana Martin @TMartinHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

A little snow feels traditional on Christmas Eve.

And for kids who received toboggans or sleighs, maybe a little more over the next few days.

But by now, Lethbridge residents are asking: How much more? When’s our next chinook?

If forecasters have it right, warmer weather is just around the corner. Environment Canada says we’ll emerge from the deep freeze by the weekend, with a sunny 3 C on Saturday, then soaring to 11 C on Sunday and a balmy 14 C on Monday.

The Weather Network is a little more cautious, predicting just 1 C on Saturday followed by 4 C the following two days. But their experts are calling for daytime highs of zero or above continuing until the following Thursday or Friday – and no plug-in overnight temperatures at least until Jan. 24.

As for snow? Amounts are harder to predict.

But the Alberta Climate Information Service shows the last few weeks have brought plenty of snow to many part of southern Alberta. But while recorded depths are well above average in many locations, residents of Lethbridge – despite their grumbling – have been spared.

Weather observers report a total of five millimetres of precipitation over the last 21 days, compared with a seasonal average of 12.2 mm over that same period in recent years.

The heaviest snowfalls came just before and after Christmas, with top-ups about Jan. 1 and 9.

Folks in other communities have been faced with far more. In Claresholm, where about 13.6 mm of precipitation could be expected over that three-week period, nearly 22 mm was actually recorded.

In Crowsnest Pass, residents can normally expect about 20 mm over those three weeks. But this winter, they’ve been faced with more than 30 mm since mid-December.

But just a little south, not so good news for skiers: At the Westcastle weather station near Castle Mountain Resort, those three weeks typically bring more than 47 mm of precip – in the form of snow, of course. But by Tuesday, just 26.4 mm had been recorded.

Cardston is closer to average, receiving 20 mm of the average 22.6 mm since mid-December.

Visible south of the city, the Milk River Ridge seems to attract far more rain, wind and snow than the prairie lands nearby. So far, this winter has been no exception with more than 31 mm reported compared with an average precipitation of 18.4 mm in recent years.

To the east, as usual, this winter’s precipitation has remained lower. At Foremost, 12 mm of the typical 14.9 mm have been recorded. At Fincastle, just east of Taber, 14.5 of the usual 15.9 mm have been received.

And at Medicine Hat, where 11.2 mm is the norm over the three weeks after Dec. 15, just 9.9 mm materialized this year.

The Alberta Climate Information Service, provided by the province’s ministry of agriculture and forestry, is intended to let producers monitor precipitation and other climatic factors affecting their crops.

Even though January weather appears to be moderating, Alberta farmers know there can still be plenty of blustery weather ahead. And then comes spring, when some of the year’s heaviest snowfalls may slam southern Alberta’s foothills and grasslands.

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