Heat wave in the West

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Cooling off in the Elbow River, SW Calgary, AB, 27 July 2017 (Postmedia/G. Young)

Environment Canada issued heat warnings for most of Alberta along with parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba this week in the wake of sizzling high temperatures.

The weather office says a daytime maximum of 30 C or higher could pose an elevated risk of heat-related illnesses and residents should avoid outdoor activities until cooler hours of the day.

Temperatures could climb to 33 C as far north as Thompson and almost 30 C in Churchill along the Hudson Bay coast.

Forecasters say the extreme heat will continue this weekend but a slight cool down is expected early next week.

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Heat warnings issued in the West

Heat west

Weather watches, warnings, statements re: heat and thunderstorms, 08 July 2017 (Environment Canada)

A strong ridge of high pressure over Western Canada has pushed the thermometer into record high territory for British Columbia and Alberta.

On 07 July, dozens of communities set new maximum temperatures with the highest at 39.4 C in Warfield and 38.3 C in Nelson but the hot spot in Canada was Garden River in northern Alberta at 40.3 C.

The major cities were warm too with Calgary reaching 33 C and Edmonton 30 C.

Heat warnings have been issued for most of Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan where temperatures will be near 29 C or higher for the next few days and residents are urged to take precautions.

Say it isn’t snow in Alberta!

Calgarysnow

Snow falling in a Calgary backyard, 22 Aug 2016 (Twitter)


Snow is not unusual in Alberta in August but nevertheless no one wants to see it in late summer.

Calgary received a trace of snow while several centimetres fell in the foothills and in the Rocky Mountains.

The snow was part of a wild weather system which also brought thunderstorms, heavy rain, flooding, strong winds, a confirmed tornado and even a waterspout.

Heavy hailstorm hits Alberta

Hail

Hail up to 30 cm deep fell near Calgary, AB, 28 June 2016 (Facebook)


Severe thunderstorms across Alberta delivered not only heavy rain but also heavy hail the size of quarters near Calgary yesterday.

The hail was so heavy and deep that it accumulated like snow and made an early summer day look downright wintry.

Funnel clouds and possible tornadoes were also reported during the stormy conditions.

August snow falls in Alberta

Snowy field near Turner Valley, AB, 21 August 2015 (Twitter)

Snowy field near Turner Valley, AB, 21 August 2015 (Twitter)


A high pressure system coupled with a cool air mass brought frost and snow to Alberta late Friday and Saturday especially the Rockies and the foothills.

Parts of Calgary saw light snow but nothing was officially measured at the airport and much of the white stuff fell at higher elevations outside the city.

Most Albertans took it in stride since although August snow is rare it is not that unusual.

Temperatures have already recovered to more summer-like values with Environment Canada calling for highs in the low to mid 20s Celsius for the next few days.

Canada’s Top Ten Weather Stories 2014

George Street in Fredericton, NB, 05 July 2014 (Twitter)

George Street in Fredericton, NB, 05 July 2014 (Twitter)

Each year Environment Canada compiles a list of the ten most significant weather events across the country and the following is how 2014 shaped up:

1. Canada’s Long Cold Winter – While much of the country shivered under cold and snowy conditions, Southeast New Brunswick was actually rainier and slightly warmer than normal.

2. Summer Flooding in the Eastern Prairies – Too much rain too fast over too many days led to extensive flooding in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

3. Wildfires in the West and Northwest – Exceptional warmth and dryness led to an abundance of wildfires in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

4. The Nightmare Before, During and After Christmas – A series of snow and ice storms in late 2013 and early 2014 left thousands without power for days from Ontario to Atlantic Canada.

5. Summer – Hot on Coasts, Cool in Centre – While British Columbia and Atlantic Canada enjoyed above normal temperatures, it never really got that hot or hazy in Ontario.

6. Hurricane Arthur – The first hurricane of the Atlantic season in early July packed a punch in the Maritimes with hundreds of trees toppling over on power lines leaving many in the dark for days.

7. Alberta Hailstorm – A series of thunderstorms in early August moved across Southern Alberta producing tennis to baseball-sized hailstones and covering the ground like snow.

8. Powerful December Storms on Coasts – Three storms in rapid succession battered the Pacific coast while an East Coast deluge delivered 150 mm of rain in Greater Moncton over two days and caused extensive flooding.

9. Ontario Tornadoes – The province recorded 19 this year with the worst twister in Angus near Barrie on 17 June which damaged more than 100 homes after peak wind gusts up to 220 km/h.

10. Snowtember in Alberta – The so-called snow event brought summer-like temperatures to a screeching halt on 07 September when upwards of 40 cm of snow fell on Calgary and region over the next three days.

More snow in Alberta!

Heavy, wet snow snaps tree branches in Calgary, AB, 10 Sept 2014 (Twitter)

Heavy, wet snow snaps tree branches in Calgary, AB, 10 Sept 2014 (Twitter)

Snow can fall in virtually any month of the year in Alberta – especially in the Rockies and the foothills – but even this seems a little unusual for Calgary.

Temperatures hovered near freezing as Calgary had its second dose of snow this week which brought down tree branches still laden with leaves and power lines.

Thousands lost power and many residents were calling city crews to help clean up fallen trees which had blocked streets, sidewalks and toppled onto vehicles.

Farmers are concerned about losses during the harvest season with the heavy, wet snow virtually flattening many crops.

Snow in Calgary

Snow in Calgary, AB, 08 Sept 2014 (Facebook)

Snow in Calgary, AB, 08 Sept 2014 (Facebook)

Yesterday in Calgary it was sunny and 26 C.

Less than 24 hours later, it was snowing and below freezing.

At least 5 cm of snow fell over parts of the city creating traffic headaches as drivers adjusted to the icy road conditions.

But the long term forecast is calling for a return to warmer weather by late week.

Late summer snow in Alberta

Chain Lakes, AB, 03 Sept 2014 (Courtesy Global)

Chain Lakes, AB, 03 Sept 2014 (Courtesy Global)

Several centimetres of snow fell today in southwestern Alberta, mainly in the foothills of the Rockies and other higher elevations.

Ski resorts were definitely excited about the fresh powder with many posting snow pictures on social media.

With slightly higher temperatures, Calgary managed to escape the snow and it rained instead.

Forecasters say warmer weather is on the way for the weekend.

Spring snow in Alberta

Angry snowmen in Calgary, 03 May 2014 (Twitter)

Angry snowmen in Calgary, 03 May 2014 (Twitter)

Most Canadians are sick and tired of snow after a long, severe winter so Albertans aren’t exactly welcoming more of the white stuff.

By Saturday morning, Calgary had received about 20 cm of snow which made roads slick and caused one tractor trailer to jack-knife closing a major highway for a couple hours.

The snow was even heavier in the Rocky Mountains which has increased the risk of avalanches.

Northern Alberta is getting hit today with Fort McMurray under a snowfall warning.