A sizable snowfall for southwest Sask. to begin March has improved the region's spring runoff forecast.

The Water Security Agency released its second preliminary spring runoff report on Tuesday which saw improvements for a section of the southwest.

They upgraded the narrow strip from Elrose through Swift Current to Val Marie to below normal from their February projection of well below normal. Communities and RMs west of Swift Current and Shaunavon are still listed as well below normal for their runoff.

Patrick Boyle, a spokesperson for the WSA, said a lack of precipitation in the southwest in the fall of 2023 was one of the reasons for a lacklustre runoff forecast.

"Add on top of it not a lot of winter precipitation through snowfall and that's where you see that well below normal category," he said.  
The WSA bases its projections on snow surveys they complete a week or two before releasing the data to the public.

"What we're doing is going out there and measuring what we call the snow water equivalent or how much water is in that snow," he said. "That gives us an indication when that melts on the landscape and what we can predict for spring runoff."

Small reservoirs, dugouts, and sloughs in the Cypress Hills area were flagged by the WSA as they may experience surface water supply concerns due to a limited snowpack. This included Middle Creek Reservoir, Cypress Lake, and Bigstick Lake. 

"There's a couple of other reservoirs in the area that likely will be below normal this year," he said. "Certainly, something we're watching and hopefully it does replenish here, and we get some rainfall."

The recent snowfall that hit central and southeast Sask. has also upgraded a large portion of those two regions to below normal or in localized cases, near normal.

Runoff Map 2024Graphic courtesy of Water Security Agency