Alberta’s top weather headlines of 2015
EDMONTON – It’s the season of reflection, and when we think about the weather that was, we think of some pretty spectacular moments.
In consultation with Global News meteorologists, and prominent Alberta storm chasers – here are the top weather headlines of 2015.
#3 – Severe summer storms
The footage was incredible, thanks to our viewers and storm chasers like Nevin deMilliano. One of his favourite videos of the year was of a land spout near Foremost, AB. “Some farm kid had a spectacular video of that one out of the back of his truck,” deMilliano explained, “so that was really cool to see.”
Cool, or maybe terrifying. You be the judge:
The severe summer storms, especially near Calgary, delivered big time. “Just seeing these rotating thunderstorms come off the foothills, they really spin up,” deMilliano continued.
“You can really see the motion in them.”
The destruction was easy to see as well. Almost $475 million dollars in insurable losses were caused by catastrophic storms alone this year. Smaller severe storms also caused hail and water damage that’s not included in that number.
The severe weather season also took many forecasters by surprise.
“The [storms] that produced tornadoes were some of the ones we weren’t expecting them to,” noted deMilliano.
His fellow storm chaser, Chris Ratzlaff agreed. He said that the day a funnel cloud loomed over parts of Calgary, “a million people had a better view of that than probably did a lot of the storm chasers, because we just weren’t out there.”
#2 – Solar storms result in magnificent northern lights
From terrifying, to fascinating – the Alberta skies take the number two spot on our list as well.
When he’s not chasing summer storms, Ratzlaff likes to chase solar storms – the driver behind the phenomena of Aurora Borealis. “We’re on the back side of the solar maximum and that produces a lot of coronal holes [on the sun],” Ratzlaff explained.
“This gives us a good opportunity to get some really really nice northern lights.”
To call them nice would be a pretty big understatement. Regular shows of spectacular lights dancing across the Alberta sky dazzled locals and garnered international attention.
Ratzlaff said that “a great northern lights event has a lot of colour like purples and reds in the sky” and that we had a lot of that this year.
#1 – The little boy better known as “El Nino”
Spanish for “little boy”, the “super” El Nino of 2015 brought about several prominent weather headlines.
Warm and dry conditions were especially prominent throughout central Alberta, where local areas saw one in fifty year drought conditions.
“There wasn’t a lot of moisture through central Alberta which hindered a lot of the growing season,” explained Jesse Beyer, Global Edmonton’s chief meteorologist.
Poor growing conditions resulted in agricultural states of emergency to be declared across several Alberta counties. Farmers have collected over $400 million in agricultural insurance pay outs from the season so far.
The drought caused trouble for provincial wild fire officials too. This year in Alberta, there was a 25% spike in wildfires compared to the 5-year average. Fires from Western Canada, and the North West US resulted in a smoky haze that covered large parts of the province for weeks on end.
“You had a lot of days with air quality health indexes in the high range,” Beyer said.
“That led to a lot of problems for people with cardiovascular ailments.”
Beyer also said that he thinks the effects of the El Nino will continue to dominate the weather headlines going into 2016.
“We did have a little bit of moisture from last year going into this year’s growing season, but that will not be the case for this upcoming year,” Beyer continued.
“With that deficit already heading into one of the driest times of the year, in January, February and March, the growing season for next year is already going to start with dry soil growing conditions.”
© 2015 Shaw Media