Calgary drought status downgraded after rainy, cool stretch

The rainy, cool weather may be keeping Calgarians from enjoying the spring patio season, but some experts say it’s also bringing major benefits to the province’s drought conditions.

Thanks to the recent rainfall, the City of Calgary has downgraded its drought status to normal conditions.

Dr. Tricia Stadnyk is an expert in water supply and climate change at the University of Calgary and calls the development “excellent news.”

“We’ve seen river levels come up,” she says. “The reservoirs upstream affecting the city are essentially at capacity, or normal capacity now.”

“We’re no longer having to worry about filling those reservoirs with whatever water we see in the rivers.”

The city says they will continue to monitor the situation and warn that conditions could change.

“We continue to remind Calgarians to use water wisely, especially outdoors, and make every drop count,” reads the city’s drought webpage.

Stadnyk cautions the province isn’t out of the woods yet and says it’s hard to tell what exactly would be needed to completely pull the region out of drought. She says it would require frequent ground water level monitoring, but adds more rainfall throughout the month would definitely help.

“As much as it seems like we’ve had a ton of rain and we must be near flood conditions, remember that under the surface it’s still pretty dry,” she says. “A lot of this water is still being absorbed by the environment, which is of course exactly what farmers want.”

Meanwhile, CityNews meteorologist Kevin Stanfield says the Palmer Drought Index is also showing some positive news for much of the province. According to the index, the only places still experiencing dry, arid conditions are in the Grande Prairie area.

Stanfield says southern Alberta has seen between 25 to 70 mm of rain over the last 60 days, which is to say we’ve all but repaired those earlier drought indices.

The province said this week the recent wet weather has also lowered the risk of wildfires and there has been a “significant decline” in the number of active fires since last week.

As if Thursday, there are 30 fires burning in the province, with three listed as being held and four as under control. Twenty are left over from last year’s wildfire season.

About 290 square kilometres of forest have been burned so far this year in Alberta.

With files from The Canadian Press

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