Alberta is on the doorstep of severe weather season, and people know all too well that we can see our share of destructive weather.
“Rollercoaster I think would be the best way to describe it,” said Nevin deMilliano with Prairie Storm Chasers.
“We had seasons where there were lots of tornadoes — more than average — and lots of seasons that have been way below average.”
Since he was a kid, deMilliano has been fascinated by weather. He’s been storm chasing now for more than a decade.
“To see that dynamic weather kind of unfold on the prairies, it’s beautiful,” he explained. “It’s humbling because these storms are so destructive and amazing.
“The whole chase experience is what I look forward to — the planning, the forecasting. There’s a lot that goes into it that people don’t usually see.”
On the prairies, June and July tend to see the most active weather.
Edmonton got its first taste of storm season near the end of May when a storm complete with strong winds, heavy rain, thunder and lightning rolled in.
deMilliano noted while the province has already seen a couple severe weather incidents, what the rest of the season will look like will depend on the weather we see in the coming weeks.
“I think the next three weeks will be the big determining factor — if we get a lot of rain, that might be very different than if we stay dry,” deMilliano said.
“We’re keeping an eye on how much moisture we get, but I think that severe weather season will impact somewhere on the prairies and Alberta for sure.
“It’s just a matter of what that severe weather looks like.”
The extreme heat last year had a big effect on his storm chasing season.
“It was very quiet,” he explained. “I think I only actually ended up chasing in Alberta one day, so the heat dome that was kind of present and affecting everybody in Western Canada, really affected storm chasers too.”
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), there are usually more than 100 severe weather reports in Alberta every summer and typically more than 1,500 watches and warnings are issued. deMilliano said that just underscores the importance of a forecast and a plan.
“Once it’s impacting you, it’s already too late,” deMilliano said. “You have to have that plan in place.
“If you’re camping, a trailer is not a safe place, so you have to think of a sturdy building somewhere with a basement preferably, and you’ve got to know where those places are beforehand.”