Central Alberta was a hot spot for storms yesterday (Monday, August 1) and Environment Canada is still looking for more details. Tornado warnings were issued throughout the area including in Red Deer, Lacombe, Blackfalds, and Ponoka areas. So far, Environment Canada has only been able to confirm a tornado touched down South of Coronation at 5:15PM.
“We had a number of photos and videos of the storm, but from what we've seen so far, we haven't had any reports of damage that done with it. It sounds like for the most part, it likely stayed in an open field, it's possible there is damage outside that we just haven't heard of yet, but as of this point there's been no damage reported with that tornado. We've rated it a default like an EF0 tornado, which is kind of our weakest scale because it is a damage scale, so it has to be rated on the damage that did occur,” said Meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Kyle Fougere.
However, given the large span of tornado warning areas, Environment Canada continues to look for more evidence of tornadoes in the area.
There were also several reports of large hail south of Red Deer.
“A severe thunderstorm did form kind of just north of Caroline and then tracked probably several 100 kilometers to the East and there were portions of it where it did have extremely large hail with it. We had widespread hail damage with that thunderstorm, through its life, it persisted for several hours as it moved to the East,” explained Fougere.
Several vehicles took damage along the QEII on Sunday night near the Penhold area as well.
“The largest hail was in the area near the Queen Elizabeth 2 Highway and just West towards Markerville and Penhold. We did have tennis ball to even softball size hail. The largest stones that we saw were over 10 centimeters in diameter,” added Fougere.
Overall, Fougere says hail of that size is quite uncommon. However, hail in this area is not. Fougere says much of central Alberta is considered a part of ‘hailstorm alley’.
“We receive a lot of hail reports in Alberta and the reason is because the foothills of Alberta are a near perfect place for severe thunderstorm development... You have a lot of heat and you have a lot of moisture near the surface. Then the foothills can act as a trigger for these thunderstorms, and we get the wind changing height in a way that makes these storms organize and become severe and so, this part of the world from Calgary up to Red Deer towards Rocky Mountain House is known around the world as hailstorm alley,” said Fougere.
On average, Fougere said Alberta receives over 65 severe hail events on average. Thunderstorm season is not over yet either.
“At least in the southern parts of Provence, we're starting to see a little bit of that heat returning towards the end of this week. It's unlikely that we're done with severe thunderstorm season. Typically, it lasts through August and sometimes into September. People should definitely be prepared for more severe weather should it occur,” added Fougere.