Warm trend expected to continue

Temperatures in March were above average for Red Deer and area. According to Environment Canada, Central Albertans can expect to see this warmer trend continue well into the spring season.

Temperatures in March were above average for Red Deer and area. According to Environment Canada, Central Albertans can expect to see this warmer trend continue well into the spring season.

The normal day temperature in Red Deer for March is usually about -4.1C, said Greg Pearce, meteorologist with Environment Canada. This March, it was -2.1C.

Average highs for March collected from past data hover around -1.9C with lows at -10.1C. Normally, Red Deer sees about 18 cm of snow with one to two mm of rain in March, said Pearce.

March 2012 had an average high of 3.7C and an average low around -7.9C.

There was not a drop of rain and 40.6 cm of snow fell, most of which fell within a three-day period from March 4 to 6 — 17.8 cm of snow alone fell on March 5.

“It was a different March,” said Pearce. “And we speculate it will be a warmer spring, too. But, as with many long range forecasts, we have to take that with a grain of salt.”

Similarly, the runoff forecast for the Red Deer basin area, based on data collected up to March 1, ranges from average to below average, said Carrie Sancartier, a public affairs officer for Alberta Environment.

For farmers, it’s still too cold to start seeding yet, said Harry Brook, a crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture’s Ag Info Centre in Stettler.

“Though I expect seeding could be begin as soon as the third week of April if things continue they way they are,” he said. “Depending on the temperature again ­— the soil needs to be 5C.”

The winter was drier than it should have been, said Brook, but the snow Red Deer received last month will help with the soil moisture that is key for germination and especially getting the foliage started.

The warmer March weather has River Bend Golf and Recreation Area already gearing up to kick off tee times.

“The driving range will be open this Saturday,” said Andrew Gilchrist, River Bend’s general manager.

The course itself could be open in as soon as 10 days, depending on the night temperatures, he added.

“We can’t take the tarp off our greens if the temp goes below -5C or it will damage them,” he said. “So right now it’s still too cold.”

Sunny skies are keeping staff at Red Deer’s Toad ’n’ Turtle Pubhouse and Grill busy, too.

The restaurant’s downstairs patio is being cleaned off and will be open to the public later this week — heat lamps included, of course, said Rochelle Meikle, general manager. The upstairs patio at the Toad ’n’ Turtle will be officially open June 1.

Environment Canada is calling for a mix of cloud, sun, rain and maybe even a bit of snow later this week. Tuesday’s high is expect to reach 12C, followed by periods of rain on Wednesday. Thursday has a 60 per cent chance of flurries.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

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