Alberta Foothills Weather

Looking back at 2011

I’ve been kicking around the thought of posting some sort of wrap-up for year’s end for a few weeks, yesterday the quest to find the favorite photos of 2011 began. We tried to find one for each month, but photo ops seemed to clump together more this year than in years past. Long stretches of nothingness in the depth of the cruel winter we had, a big burst of activity in July then another drought in the dry, dusty fall A few December tours have resulted in absolutely zilch, no animals, no frost, no snowdrifts, no optic marvels of any kind.

Winter so far has been a 6 week holiday, even though it’s less than two weeks old. When winter pulls in mid November and stays till March, like it did last year, there is no happy. Busting into the new year with the balmy weather we’ve had so far has already taken a massive bite out of the season. The end is 10 days away.
Big cold is persistently showing on the long range, sweeping down on the 11th like the sword of Damocles. It may only stay a few days or it could stay till March again. Good time for folks to make sure their vehicle is ready.
We have a fair base of snow left, filling the ditches and potholes, but need at least a foot before the sleds can come out. None of that showing yet on the models.

A few of our favorite shots from 2011, only one has been on the blog before:

Iridescent clouds - Jan. 6, 2011
January 6: This was one of the few nice days of January 2011, a chinook had pushed in and these iridescent clouds were playing in the wave over the foothills.

Fiery March sunset - Mar. 17, 2011
March 17: Warm weather has been pouring in from the west for a few days after a long stretch of deep cold. Wavy bits and incoming moisture combine for a warm winter sunset.

Aurora borealis - May 2, 2011
May 2: The sun was very active in 2011, burping off dozens of big CMEs, flaring off more than it has in 8 years, but that only got me fewer Aurora photos than almost any other year in the past 10. Clouds killed a few ops but mystery got most of them. Many times I expected a hit that never came. The best thing about it? It can’t be worse for me next year.

Supercell near Rocky Mountain House - June 21, 2011
June 21: This was the first supercell in the neighborhood for 2011. After getting lured to Innisfail by a dying cell we spied this beauty off to the west and gave chase. A fantastic cell to start the season, it sat and posed for us for a good long while. (link) (link)

Noctilucent clouds - July 1, 2011
July 1: Something about the first of July in Alberta makes the noctilucent clouds pop. Almost every year they show up on this night. (link)

Electric supercell leftovers near Carstairs - July 4, 2011
July 4: These are some of the last sparks left in a classic LP supercell that entertained myself and the hordes of mosquitoes for a few hours west of Carstairs this night. Most of the 100+ shots from this session were ruined by Winnipeg style clouds of microvampires filling the scene. (link)

Electric supercell southwest of Edmonton - July 6, 2011
July 6: It’s not often that I drive more than an hour for a lightning op, but this eve was an exception. Training supercells were infesting the Drayton corridor with no signs of stopping, giant bolts could be seen easily from here before dark, 80 miles away, so off I went. A very nice outing, I sat on the south edge and watched the storms rake the southern edge of Edmonton with a never ending show of power. Before I knew it, it was way past midnight, way east of the QE2. A long day with an eye already on the next day. (link)

Supercell builds in the foothills southwest of Sundre - July 7, 2011Tornado on the ground east of Sundre - July 7, 2011Massive supercell thunderstorm southwest of Bowden, minutes before dropping a tornado west of Innisfail - July 7, 2011
July 7: Tornado day in the neighborhood. Got down to Sundre in time to watch the birth of it all, and managed to get into position before the first of many tornadoes that day, dropped in the hills west of Bearberry. The full gamut of the chase was to be experienced, from jaw dropping awe at the sight of a massive mesocyclone in full spin only a mile away, or less. The creeping adrenaline rush when something dark is chasing you, and gaining. Finding out there was serious damage very close to where you just were. What a day. (link) (link) (link)

Canola as high as a Mule deers eye - July 7, 2011
July 15: We spied this deer in the middle of a Canola field while out looking for a possible tornado path west of Eckville. Never did find any signs of a touchdown but this op made up for it a bit.

Lonely wind turbine on a glorious warm summer morning near Trochu- July 18, 2011
July 18: This one one of three trips out to the Ghostpine wind farm near Trochu this year. Not terribly exciting to a lot of people, but there is something graceful about them. Not that I would want to live anywhere near one. I’m done with the sound these things make before I can get away from them.

Thunderstorm over Sylvan Lake - August 5, 2011
August 5: Timing put me on the beach at Sylvan Lake when this storm slowly rolled in. Two hail planes bombed this thing forever but never seemed to be able to dent it. I got quite a few shots of them bouncing around in the edges of the core, but this one clearly shows the plane getting lifted by the updraft as it approaches. (link)

Harvest dust lights the sunset on fire - Sept. 10, 2011
September 10: Harvest was extremely dusty this year, this was before it got bad. Another week and all hope of seeing a hill to the west was gone for a month.

With any luck, Ma Nature will soon provide some tasty scenery, we are overdue for a frosting.
Happy New Year!
All the best to you in 2012.

4 Responses to “Looking back at 2011”

  1. 1
    Dann Cianca Says:

    A fantastic series, Boomer.

  2. 2
    Brandon Says:

    Obviously July 7th is my favourite from this set, and I am over my extreme disapointment that I was out of the country and missed this day. We have an exciting 2012 for us with the arrival of our baby in late February and I am already looking forward to my holidays in July 2012 and of course, our traditional July beer in Spruceview! The other photos on here are great as well.

  3. 3
    Cindy Says:

    Amazing pictures, Pat. I have no idea how you got so many of them. Thanks for the comment on my blog and for the heads-up about the 11th. (I feel like I’ve just been given a sure tip at the race track…have to get the Christmas lights down before then…)

    Wishing you all the best for exciting weather and great photo-ops for 2012.

  4. 4
    anthony L Says:

    there all great….tornado day photo brings back good memories even though i watched it from 70km away!! Awesome day and awesome pic!

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