Alberta could see milder storm season this summer

Photo of a cloudburst during a thunderstorm near Calgary, Alta. on Thursday, June 14, 2019. Courtesy: Scott Jorgensen

Alberta is no stranger to some severe weather, but experts are predicting this year’s storm season could be a little milder than usual.

Hailstorms, thunderstorms and tornados are all a part of an average southern Alberta summer. So common in fact that Environment Canada notes there are usually more than 100 severe weather reports and more than 1,500 watches and warnings issued per summer.

But this year is La Niña, and that could mean less severe weather activity for the province.

“A lot of times when we do have a La Niña in the summer, there tend to be fewer severe thunderstorms and we tend to have a lower tornado count,” Kyle Fougère, a warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said.

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“Last year was (also) a La Niña summer and we had only two confirmed tornados in Alberta, which is the lowest number we’ve had in more than 30 years.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary sees hail, tornado warning as storms roll through'
Calgary sees hail, tornado warning as storms roll through

Fougère said last year was the warmest summer on record in Calgary with an average temperature of 17.7 C, compared to a usual average temperature of 15.3 C.

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While this year is expected to be milder when it comes to storm activity, Fougère added that we shouldn’t expect to be breaking any new heat records this summer.

“When we say hotter than average, we tend to look at the probability that it will be above average, rather than attempting to quantify how much hotter,” Fougère said. “It’s very unlikely that it would be warmer than last year’s record hot summer, as that was a very rare event.”

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When looking at what hail activity might look like this summer season, Terry Krauss, the project director with the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society, said he doesn’t have a “preseason prediction” yet, however, he did note last year’s La Niña hail activity was lower than average.

“We have been doing the Alberta Hail Suppression Operations since 1996, and our 25-year average here in Alberta is 30 days with seeding, 105 aircraft missions and 86 severe storms seeded,” Krauss said.

“2021 was a below-average year. We only did cloud seeding on severe storms on 14 days. We only did 57 aircraft missions, and only seeded 35 storms.”

Krauss noted that operations run from June 1 to September 15 each year.

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