This summer has just about passed us by and the weather has done so in a flurry of storms, hot days and cool days.
Bill McMurtry, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said this summer actually has been a good one, though many people say it’s been the worst.
After the June flooding in southern Alberta, many people have been on the rebound trying to get their homes re-established or even completely rebuilt. But here in Central Alberta, McMurtry said we’ve seen some strange, less extreme, weather.
“When we look at this area as far as temperature and precipitation is considered, both June and July were almost bang on for normal temperatures and precipitation,” said McMurtry.
He said where Central Alberta has strayed from normal conditions is the month of August. “August was considerably warmer and more dry. Looking back we saw just about two degrees warmer for the month, which is a considerable departure from the normal.”
Precipitation was also a lot less in the month of August, said McMurtry. Typically Central Alberta would see about 70mm of rain in August and yet this year has only yielded just over 10mm.
“We’ve had quite a warm stretch and probably will have through to September.”
McMurtry then mentioned storms and the classifications for severe weather. In order to be deemed severe weather, a storm must produce nickel-sized hail, winds of 90km or greater, rain over 50mm in an hour or a tornado that touches the ground.
“From May to September the average is 82 severe events. But so far this year, to the end of July where we have statistics, we’ve had 116.”
He said that while August wasn’t overly active it did add to that number, but those numbers weren’t available at press time.
“When we look at each weather element we’re above normal in each one. What we are below normal on is the tornado count. We typically see between 10 to 12 and this year saw four in this region.”
McMurtry said what’s interesting is when we look to last year which was very active. The year 2013, though its numbers seem high, doesn’t have nearly the amount of severe weather events that 2012 did.
He said there is no real pattern to how the numbers compare from year to year and that some years are significantly lower all across the board, and others hit right on average. “The other difference is the improvement in communications, it’s much easier for people to report severe weather.”
McMurtry added that Environment Canada may just be getting more reports and some may be due to the fact that it is so much easier to send in a quick photo or email. “There definitely would have been past situations where we wouldn’t have received reports but now it’s just so easy with all the technology, so that changes the numbers too.”
To sum this summer up, McMurtry said for those who like it warm and sunny we had a slow start but should be finishing up with a bang.