The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority has delivered another update on the flood outlook for this spring, but it notes that the forecast is based on limited data and should only be used as a general guideline for large areas. I had always suffered under the illusion that precipitation statistics were reliable. The flood watch for this spring shows that there’s a lot we don’t know about winter precipitation. People in the weather business will tell you it’s tough to get an accurate measurement of snowfall particularly on windy days. And Environment Canada uses automated snow gauges. The Saskatchewan Watershed report notes that field observations show more snow than what Environment Canada is reporting. If you look at the official precipitation maps, we’ve had average to below average precipitation over much of the province this winter. Environment Canada is also estimating the snowpack based on satellite images. That shows well above normal snowpack across the agricultural portion of the province. Many areas are two times normal. There are a lot of variables heading into the spring. How much more precipitation will we get? How fast will the melt be? Unfortunately, another variable is that we’re struggling to understand the snow water equivalent of what’s on the ground. I’m Kevin Hursh.

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