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From destructive tornadoes to raging wildfires: top 5 Alberta weather stories of 2019

From destructive tornadoes to raging wildfires: top 5 Alberta weather events of 2019
WATCH: From a nasty winter to a bummer of a summer and snowy fall, 2019 was a wild one. Here's Tiffany Lizée with a recap of our biggest weather stories across Alberta.

It was a wild year in Alberta, with extreme cold, massive wildfires, destructive tornadoes and a summer that never showed up.

Here’s a recap of our biggest weather stories across Alberta in 2019.

READ MORE: Environment Canada’s chief meteorologist lists country’s Top 10 weather events of 2019

Cody Coates/Global News
Cody Coates/Global News Cody Coates/Global News

#5  Wildfires: Most land burned in past 40 years

Although wildfires aren’t classified as “weather,” dry spells and drought fuel the burning.

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Much of northern Alberta started off the year with moderate to severe drought conditions, which made ideal conditions for wildfires.

The season started in March 1, and while it got off to a slow start, the number of fires and their intensity steadily increased.

Alberta wildfire season: 2019 a tough year for fire crews
Alberta wildfire season: 2019 a tough year for fire crews

By the end of the season, 644 wildfires were recorded in Alberta, under the five-year average of 747.

However, 883,000 hectares were burned this year in the province and that’s four times the average — and the most land burned in 40 years.

During the 2018 wildfire season, 1,288 wildfires burned more than 59,800 hectares across the province. The province said 777 of the wildfires that year were caused by humans.

READ MORE: Alberta fire season 2019: Latest status of wildfires, bans and restrictions

Cody Coates/Global News
Cody Coates/Global News Cody Coates/Global News

#4  September snowstorm buried southern Alberta

A September snowstorm slammed southern Alberta the weekend of Sept. 27.

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Waterton was buried under 95 cm of snow, 80 cm fell in Chain Lakes and 55 cm fell in Lethbridge.

Lethbridge digs out after record snowstorm
Lethbridge digs out after record snowstorm

After the storm, 20 cm of snow was on the ground in Calgary — the greatest September snow depth in 65 years.

READ MORE: Sunday marked snowiest September day in history at Calgary airport

Cody Coates/Global News
Cody Coates/Global News Cody Coates/Global News

#3  The summer that wasn’t

Summer was a bummer.

Edmonton only had 18 days with temperatures above 25 C, that’s 15 fewer days than normal.

It was slightly better in Calgary, with 21 days above 25 C, which is only nine fewer days than normal.

Summer 2019 in Calgary had few days above 25 degrees and 71 days with rain
Summer 2019 in Calgary had few days above 25 degrees and 71 days with rain

Not only was it a mild summer but also soggy for much of Alberta.

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Fort McMurray recorded the third wettest summer in history.

In Calgary, it rained a total 71 days — which is tied for a record.

Edmonton had 55 days with rain and recorded its eighth wettest summer in history.

READ MORE: Summer 2019 in Calgary: 71 days with rain, few days above 25 degrees

Cody Coates/Global News
Cody Coates/Global News Cody Coates/Global News

#2  Tornado tally hits 23

It was an active summer across the province with 23 tornadoes recorded.

Cody Coates/Global News
Cody Coates/Global News Cody Coates/Global News

The 30-year average for Alberta is 12-15 touchdowns a year.

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The season started early and went long, with the first touchdown on April 24 and the last on Sept. 10.

Alberta sees very active tornado season
Alberta sees very active tornado season

And Alberta saw a tornado outbreak on June 28, with seven touchdowns recorded.

The highest number of tornadoes in Alberta in the last 35 years has been 26 in 1988.

There were also over double the number of hail and wind storms in the province.

  • 112 hail storms (average: 50)
  • 47 wind storms (average: 18)

READ MORE: Alberta tornado count for 2019

Cody Coates/Global News
Cody Coates/Global News Cody Coates/Global News

#1  Record-breaking frigid February

It was a frigid start to 2019 and February to forget.

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Calgary recorded its coldest February in 83 years and Edmonton had its coldest February in 40 years.

Noodles freeze in mid-air as Calgary battles extreme cold
Noodles freeze in mid-air as Calgary battles extreme cold

READ MORE: Edmonton experiences coldest February in 40 years

An El Niño pattern influenced the beginning of 2019 but has fizzled out. Now as we move into the New Year, there’s no major El Niño or La Niña to dictate our weather, which will make forecasting weather trends a bit trickier in 2020.

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