Alberta Foothills Weather

August 4-6 – Electric long weekend

Quite a busy August long weekend for weather watchers in Alberta.
Mother Nature got busy on day 1, Saturday, sweeping a line of nasty storms down from the northwest, doing quite a bit of wind damage on it’s way to Edmonton. The Heritage Festival at Hawrelak Park was evacuated an hour before closing, then the Big Valley Jamboree music festival near Camrose was temporarily halted while storms roared by there. Some pretty heavy wind damage in Whitecourt from 100kmh+ estimated winds and further down the line in Onoway where the school took some serious damage to it’s roof.
Just as the sun set, a line of storms began to fire to the north of here and for the next two hours we were treated to a fantastic lightning show streaming across from west to east just a few miles to the north. I’ve never seen so many transformer hits while out watching a show, big fat cloud to ground bolts lighting up at least four of them in green-blue flashes and one much bigger multi flash hit, maybe a substation. The hail planes were all over it the entire time, darting in and out of the cloud right where the lighting bolts were hurling out.

Sunday we were out west of Rocky Mountain House by mid-afternoon sitting in the smoky hills watching a cell try to make a run down highway 11. It tried and tried but never amounted to much more than a 50,000 foot rainbag. It was cheating anyway, like wearing high heels, it was already 8-9000 feet off the ground before it even started.
Right on the edge of good flow aloft but with no flow at the low levels it just floated along being an air conditioner, trying occasionally to develop a little lowering here and there until it caught something very close to the wall that is highway 22. It looked like it was developing a lovely exposed mesocyclone, but it wasn’t spinning, it was pushing along to the east. I don’t know exactly what happened, maybe a little mid level jet hit it from behind, maybe it just shed the rest of it’s husk and left the updraft, but it quickly lost it’s nice shapes and turned into a yawner.

Monday we got our big nasty night show for the year, I hope.
Watching the foothills churning all afternoon, looking like they were about to have a big release at any time, it happened about 7pm, when what looked like a gust front/ outflow boundary came flying out towards Drayton Valley.
It spread out to the east and south, then hit something near Rimbey and really blew out to the south, right over the yard. I was out watching it come in a few miles to the north and heard the wind coming across the wheat field, it beat me home and for the three hours we were in the middle of a big windy lightshow, bolts dropping all around, one of them taking out the power early on. 30mm of rain in the first 20 minutes and 50mm before it was over, enough to get the sump flowing, with no power for the pump. Fun!

Tomorrow is a dangerous looking day.
Plenty of flow aloft from the southwest, plenty of instability, and stiff low level flow from the south mean that whatever comes off the hills tomorrow will likely have some degree of spin to it. It’s going to be a day to watch your butt if you plan to be out in it having a look.

Highly charged thunderstorm over Sylvan Lake, Alberta - August 4, 2012
Lightning bolts rain down on the east side of Sylvan Lake, Alberta - August 4, 2012Heavy lightning near Penhold , Alberta - August 4, 2012Severe thunderstorm and lightning near Pine Lake, Alberta - August 4, 2012
Alberta foothills thunderstorm trying to organize near Nordegg, Alberta - August 5, 2012Supercellular looking thunderstorm south of Rocky Mountain house, Alberta - August 5, 2012Supercellular looking thunderstorm south of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta - August 5, 2012
Thunderstorm near Sylvan Lake, Alberta - August 6, 2012

August 4 Carvel RADAR loop
August 5 Carvel RADAR loop
August 6 Carvel+Strathmore RADAR loop

This is a timelapse of the August 5 storm. The first segments are from south of Rocky Mountain House and span about a half hour, the back view is 1.5 hours from the yard looking southeast after it had passed.

2 Responses to “August 4-6 – Electric long weekend”

  1. 1
    Brandon Says:

    Nice blog post, Pat. I am still waiting to capture lightning like image 2 in your set, I tried Monday night but the rain put an end to that. Maybe we’ll cross paths later on today.

  2. 2
    Heather Says:

    Love the shots and timelapse, Pat. Gorgeous colour . I`m stealing some of these .

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