Alberta has been hit with a number of hail storms this year — a stormy trend that is on the rise in 2019.
“We’re off to a busy start and I’ll say we are slightly above average for the number of storm days so far this year,” said Terry Krauss with the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society.
Krauss is part of a hail suppression team in Alberta that targets hail storms in an attempt to reduce the size of hail to less-damaging sizes.
In 2018, the province saw 23 grape-sized hail storms, five walnut-sized hail storms, and three that reached the size of golf balls.
Just three weeks into the team’s 15-week season, it has seen eight grape-sized hail storms, seven walnut-sized and two golf-ball sized.
The team uses silver iodide in the form of smoke, which creates ice crystals they believe can reduce the size of the hail.
“We hope to create a million small hailstones rather than let’s say 10,000 large ones,” pilot Joel Zimmer, with the hail suppression team, said. “Adding the silver iodide to the liquid water in the newly developing turrets will create more ice.”
They say this reduction can help lower the damage the hail would do to vehicles and homes in towns and cities across the province.
Over 40 major hail storms have come through Alberta each summer, causing billions of dollars worth of damages over the last decade.
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“In the last decade, the number has been about $1 billion that the insurance industry has paid in severe weather damages across the country,” Rob de Pruis, of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said. “Last year, in 2018, that number was in excess of $1.9 billion.”
The hail suppression team is hoping that the stormy trend it has seen will return to normal for August.
“I’m actually hoping a ridge of high pressure moves or builds over us and we turn to a dryer and a warmer weather situation,” said Krauss. “Right now that is in the forecast and I’m hoping that we have that.”