What made Alberta’s storms a hot and dry summer – Edmonton | The Canadian News

Driving down any of Alberta’s highways this summer, it would be hard to argue that the dust cloud on the rearview mirror was slightly larger than normal – it was dry. Scratch that. It was the driest. Literally.

In all of Edmonton’s recorded meteorological history, the summer of 2021 has been the driest. Normally, the city receives 233mm of precipitation, on average, during the season. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), only 86.3mm fell this summer. That’s less than 40 percent of the normal totals. The story in the rest of the province was very similar.

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The risk to crops from the abundance of hot and dry weather added to the usual mix of summer storm elements. However, they didn’t present themselves as normal either. The number of hail storms rose to 96 when, on average, Alberta registers 65. Strong winds were also more frequent. On average, the summer produces 24 strong wind events, but 35 were recorded in 2021. However, this summer came as the fifth lowest in lightning in the last 20 years.

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And then there was the problem of tornadoes, or the lack of them.

“We only had two confirmed tornadoes this year, both of which occurred on June 5,” said ECCC warning preparation meteorologist Kyle Fougère.

“You want to be very hot and humid for these thunderstorms. We were hot, but that humidity was really lacking and I think that was a big factor. “

Western Canada saw a strong high pressure ridge over it during parts of the summer, which played a role in preventing storms from forming, although other forces were at play. Smoke from the wildfires in British Columbia and Saskatchewan also carried over into July.

Fougère said that in 2021 Alberta experienced its second smokiest summer on record with 125 hours of visibility reduced to below 10 km due to haze. He said the record was 230 hours in 2018.

“What it did was create a layer that prevented heat from reaching the surface, which is a key part of thunderstorm activity, and that really blocked a lot of thunderstorms from forming,” Fougère said.

READ MORE: Group of scientists conclude that climate change made the BC and Alberta heat wave 150 times more likely

He added that it was a unique summer with how long and extreme the heat was. However, the mountain range diverted storms around western Canada and hotter and drier summers will occur more frequently with warmer weather.

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