Spring equals snow in Alberta

Shaking a fist at falling snow is likely a typical response to March weather in Red Deer.

Shaking a fist at falling snow is likely a typical response to March weather in Red Deer.

But despite the snowfall warning of 10 to 15 cm for Red Deer, Ponoka, Innisfail, Stettler, Rocky Mountain House and Caroline by Thursday morning, Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Kulak said March was shaping up to be no worse than usual.

About five cm fell on the city Tuesday night as a result of the current system.

He said once the spring equinox rolls around people automatically think it’s time for the snow to stop. But the reality is that spring equals snow in Alberta.

“It’s suppose to snow in the spring. February tends to be a dry month of the winter and March has one-third more snow than February on average,” Kulak said on Wednesday.

In February, Red Deer saw 2.6 cm of snow, which was very dry because the average for the month is 14 cm.

As of Wednesday morning, about 23 cm had fallen this month.

The average amount of snow for March is 20 cm. In March 2013, there was 22.2 cm.

Nine to 13 cm is forecast to fall in Red Deer by Friday.

Red Deer’s total snowfall for January, February and March averages about 52 cm. As of Wednesday morning, there had been 45 cm for 2014.

Kulak said cool air from the north moving across the prairies is reacting with moisture from the Pacific to cover the region with snow.

Grumblings about the temperature he could understand. Red Deer has had an average daytime temperature high of -3.4C so far this month. The normal is 2.2.C.

“You don’t think that two degrees or three degrees below normal is something that’s going to be noticeable. But it is. It consistently is. People will start talking about why it’s been so cold lately.”

Any warm spells in Red Deer have been offset by cooler temperatures, he said.

He said no weather surprises are expected in April.

“There’s nothing that we could call a signal we can tap into and say there’s a suggestion we could have a different type of spring. There’s no El Niño out there,” Kulak said.

An officer with Ponoka Integrated Traffic Services said five vehicles hit the ditch Wednesday morning due to icy conditions. Roads were wet and sloppy by the Wednesday afternoon so drivers were encouraged to have plenty of windshield wiper fluid.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com