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Alberta flood warnings expanded because of warming temperatures, spring runoff

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Andrea Bagley
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 9:11 AM -

An emergency advisory that was issued in Alberta has expanded as concern over spring runoff continues to grow and include more communities.

The province first warned of rapid snow melt and overland flooding in central and southern Alberta on Friday and on Monday, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource expanded the warning to include the plains area from Peace River and Fort McMurray.

The risk of a rapid snow melt is due in part to rising temperatures.

"Well above seasonal temperatures were reported across Alberta and Saskatchewan on Monday with similar conditions expected Tuesday," says Brett Soderholm, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. "Medicine Hat is calling for 23°C Tuesday, while Saskatoon is calling for 18°C."

The climate normal in both provinces at this time of year is closer to 10°C.

"Temperatures will drop sharply as a cold front passes over the region Tuesday night, leading to more seasonal temperatures on Wednesday," says Soderholm.

While the balmy conditions are great for those who are eager for the summer weather, it increases the risk for flooding as water makes its way into streams.

"The generally cool spring conditions combined with the heavy snowfalls across the plains during the winter and spring months has resulted in a much above average plains snowpack, that has not had the opportunity to melt gradually," reads the spring runoff advisory. "Typical snow melt in Alberta occurs with gradually warming air temperatures, as opposed to the sudden and sustained increases in temperatures that are expected through this week."

The advisory adds that in low-lying areas where water does not have a direct route to stream channels, localized ponding can be expected.

"Over the next several days water levels will rise in the smaller creeks with a possibility of flooding in adjacent low-lying areas. No significant water level rises are expected in the major rivers."

Officials will continue to monitor the river levels closely and the advisory will remain in effect until Friday April 11, unless otherwise noted.

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