Water Security Agency
December 22, 2021

Conditions at Freeze-up Report 2021

Weather modeling data indicates that parts of central and northern Saskatchewan could see wetter than normal conditions between December and March, and near normal precipitation for the rest of Saskatchewan.

Due to minimal runoff in spring 2021 followed by what was generally a hot and dry summer, most agricultural areas of the province are currently experiencing drier than normal moisture conditions. Conditions are driest starting in the central area of the province around Saskatoon and extending in a south westerly direction toward Rosetown, down through Leader and then to the Maple Creek area.

While most larger water supply reservoirs across southern and central Saskatchewan have adequate supplies, some surface water users who rely on smaller reservoirs or dugouts have been impacted by the dry conditions.

Below normal rainfall was also received across the north throughout the 2021 growing season. With the wet conditions in 2020, water levels remained high throughout the first half of the year but have since tapered to near normal heading into freeze-up. Winter flows in northern areas are expected to continue to drop to slightly below normal over the course of the winter.

In Saskatchewan’s grain belt region where conditions at freeze-up were much drier, the capacity of the soils and storage capacity within wetland areas will be higher, reducing the risk of above normal runoff come spring.

At this time, there are no areas where the Water Security Agency (WSA) believes that there is a heightened risk of above normal spring runoff in 2022. Current long-range forecasts and climate indices suggest near normal to above normal precipitation and below normal temperatures over the winter months for much of the province. However, given the current moisture conditions, even an above normal snowpack is not likely to yield an above normal snowmelt runoff.

WSA issues the Conditions at Freeze up Report during the late fall/early winter period. Freeze-up conditions, in combination with the winter snowpack, becomes the initial base for the spring snowmelt runoff forecast. This report gives an early indication of areas that are more vulnerable to potentially above or below normal runoff in the spring. It is not a spring runoff forecast, as winter snow accumulation is an integral component in the runoff yield during the melt and is impossible to predict at this juncture.

Modeling is compiled with data from various sources including Environment and Climate Change Canada and the US National Weather Service.

The full report can be found at this link.

The initial Spring Runoff Outlook for 2022 will be issued in early February.

For more information, contact:
Sean Osmar
Water Security Agency
Moose Jaw
Phone: 306-630-4643
Email: Sean.Osmar@wsask.ca