Alberta Foothills Weather

June 18 – Rain makes rain

It’s a saying Grandad used to use and it works well this week.
The jet stream has abandoned us, staying in the northern states and keeping frigid air aloft.
Any time the sun peeks out, the liquid laying around in the fields has been trying to evaporate, quickly filling the sky with puffy cumulus that start to drop out soon after they start up. The net effect has been more moisture on the ground, a lot more in some places. A few hours of sun followed by 10mm of rain, the puddles are not getting any smaller around here.

As we rapidly approach severe season, the clouds are looking better almost daily, getting a bit harder, looking more serious. All it’s going to take is a bit of heat and a taste of jet stream.. kaboom.
It hasn’t been this wet around here in years, we’ve been here 17 and this is only the second time we have had to deal with it this much. The southeast is gaining a lot of moisture as well, this is where the wind comes from to feed our foothills monsters.

The return of the jet is still a few days away, if things work out we could be into the nasty stuff in less than a week.

Thunderstorm west of Innisfail,AB - June 17, 2012
Thunderstorm northwest of Spruceview,AB - June 17, 2012Uncapped convection west of Red Deer,AB - June 18, 2012
American Goldfinch west of Red Deer, AB - June 14, 2012Blue Damselfly - June 14, 2012Female Yellow headed blackbird with a mouthful of dinner - June 14, 2012

June 13 – Too much Juice

The June monsoon continues, I hope the end is near.
A crazy wet day today for a lot of southern Alberta, freezing temps above and more heat this morning than expected really lit things off this afternoon, plugging the RADARs up with streams of red storms dropping lots of lightning, hail and torrential rain. Unorganized chaos. Flooding in Calgary, flooding in Drumheller, 5 hours of flight stopping red alert lightning conditions at the Calgary Airport. We had some interesting spinny bits fly past here this afternoon and picked up 12mm of rain we didn’t need. Looking at the RADAR calculated accumulated precip, some spots could have gotten 100mm (4 inches) or more? Hoping to see some numbers tomorrow.

Storm nuts certainly prefer a juicy June, but when it gets so wet the crops start to drown, that is counter productive on many levels. New duck ponds abound in the fields, getting bigger as you go further southwest. There are more ducks in the fields than there are on the rivers it seems.
Tomorrow it gets silly, for the immediate area anyway. The models have been suggesting an all nighter tomorrow night, unloading up to 80(!)mm or 3 inches between here and Calgary somewhere. That would put us over the top, the water table is high and that is going to cause problems. I have my fingers crossed that it evaporates, but tonight all the models are drawing the same conclusion, big rain real close. Temperatures cool off even more upstairs so it could be a loud night too.

Thunderstorm south of Sylvan Lake,AB - June 13, 2012Thunderstorm southwest of Red Deer,AB - June 13, 2012
Strathmore RADAR loop June 13, 2012Accumlated precip June 13, 2012

June 10 – Five years in

It doesn’t seem like five years have gone by since the first post, more like ten.
Thousands of miles, thousands of photos of almost every puff of vapor that has drifted by within 50 miles of here.
2011 was a good year but I have a feeling about 2012, things are stacking up nicely for a busy July.
Days away from the start of severe season, it’s time again for folks to start paying attention to the dark beasties rolling out of the hills.

I looked through the stack for five supercells to mark the fifth, but found a couple from before the blog started, so there are seven.

The first one is of a beautiful supercell east of Olds on July 29, 2005. They were sprouting all over the place east of the foothills that day and this one tried to stir something up in a farmyard a few hundred yards away from us about an hour after this photo.
Supercell east of Olds, aB - July 29, 2005

This slow moving beast hovered over the Kevisville area on July 17, 2006. Some pretty neat structure in this one as it tried and tried to spin something up. Got golfballed while on the phone with EnviroCan.
Supercell near Raven, AB - July 17, 2006

This is the most memorable miss for me, an absolutely incredible supercell on July 29, 2007 rolling along the Drayton Valley track that I choked on and missed. Still a fantastic looking thing from 40 miles away.
Supercell East of Drayton Valley, AB - July 29, 2007

July 4, 2008. We caught this one one just east of hwy#22 between Rocky mountain House and Caroline. Nice structure that kept recycling, giving us a full afternoon and evening of goodie watching.
Supercell near Caroline, AB - July 4, 2008

July 12, 2009. This foothills supercell stuck to the hills, doing it’s entire dance to the west of hwy#22. We had the good fortune to be able to watch almost the full life cycle of this one before the hail plane came for a visit.
Supercell south of Caroline, AB - July 12, 2009

Juicy looking storms were rumbling around in the hills on August 8, 2010 west of here but would not come out, so I went to them. Not expecting to see much out in the bush west of hwy#22, sunset brought some magical lighting to what turned out to be a fantastic supercell near Sundre right at sundown.
Supercell near Sundre, AB - August 8, 2010

July 7, 2011. Superdupercell day in southwestern Alberta. Sundre was the target for both of us. I quickly retreated to the east after our icy meeting but it stayed and pounded Sundre with hail, keeping it’s tornadoes under it’s skirt until it got out into open country where it still managed to find numerous buildings and trees to shred. The tornado track aross Cottonwood road is still very apparent today. Best scare since 2006, I thought for sure it was going to mow me over just a few miles from home.
Supercell west of Bowden, AB - July 7, 2011

Cheers to a fun, safe supercellular summmer.

June 9 – Thunders, funnels, and snow.

An active day in Alberta began with a healthy dumping of snow on Canmore, progressed to a tornado watch for a good chunk of the province, then a few funnel clouds out in the Camrose – Stettler area.
Not a real warm day, reaching for 20C, but with cold air aloft and lots of shear, it was enough. I got out for a look this afternoon as some goodies rolled by, but nothing would spin a funnel for me and all we got from the deal were a few good sprinkles and lots of rumbles.
The foothills have been in the rain for most of the past two days, I haven’t heard any amounts yet but the river forecaster didn’t seem to be in a panic about it this afternoon. Hopefully it will all just chug along without any major problems.
First supercell of 2011 around here was June 21.

Thunderstorm trying to wrap up west of Innisfail, AB - June 9, 2012Hail covers the landscape west of Bowden, AB - June 9, 2012Thunderstorm south of Sylvan Lake, AB - June 9, 2012
IR Satellite loop - June 9, 2012Visible Satellite loop - June 9, 2012Canadian Prairie RADAR loop - June 9, 201224hr precip accumulation - 9pm June 8 to 9pm June 9, 2012

June 8 – Red Deer River – Gleniffer Lake oil spill

Shortly after we left a muddy but beautiful Gleniffer Lake last night, a pipeline ruptured just north of Sundre, releasing thousands of barrels of crude oil into the Red Deer river. Estimates put it at 3000 barrels but who knows. Initial reports stated a pipeline leaked into Jackson Creek, which then entered the Red Deer River, but another report had an interview with a local man who took a helicopter ride over the Jackson Creek area and said the oil was bubbling up from under the river. It wouldn’t be the first time a rusty old oil straw running under the river has popped, nor will it be the last. Perhaps a fine of a million dollars per barrel dumped into the river would have these turkeys taking better care of their money tubes to make sure this doesn’t happen, ever again.

With the river roaring, a big oil slick had already appeared on Gleniffer Lake this morning. I got out for a look at the north side this afternoon under cruddy skies and terrible light, it was hard to see what was on the surface of the lake. Expecting the worst, as in Exxon Valdez type of carnage, I was surprised to see a small amount of oil on the shoreline, along a fairly short stretch just west of Gleniffer Lake Resort. It was a lot lighter than I was thinking it would be, more like used motor oil. The first reports I heard this morning were of dying animals and headache inducing smells, I was glad to not see any floaters and the smell was there but nothing like what was advertised. I did spot a few oiled gulls but they were still able to fly so maybe they will be ok.

As soon as the spill was reported, the floodgates were closed at Dickson Dam to keep the floating oil from getting downriver, and this has the lake rising rapidly. The quick rise seemed to be scouring the oil off the shore and sending it wherever the wind was blowing. I scanned a lot of shoreline but found very little oil onshore anywhere but Dickson Point. I stopped downstream to see if I could smell any hydrocarbons in the river there, but could find no hint that anything had happened.
Cleanup crews bolted into action quickly, booms were set up on the lake to trap the oil, and a major command center has taken shape at the Cottonwood boat launch, complete with living quarters for a small army and enough lights for a Rolling Stones show.
According to our Premier, everything is under control.

SEVERE WEATHER BULLETIN
ISSUED BY ENVIRONMENT CANADA
AT 8:40 PM MDT FRIDAY 8 JUNE 2012

RAINFALL WARNING FOR:
AIRDRIE – COCHRANE – OLDS – SUNDRE
BANFF NATIONAL PARK
KANANASKIS – CANMORE
NORDEGG – FORESTRY TRUNK ROAD HIGHWAY 734
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE – CAROLINE.

RAINFALL AMOUNTS APPROACHING 100 MILLIMETRES ARE LIKELY BY
SUNDAY MORNING.

Red Deer river - Gleniffer Lake oil spill - June 8, 2012
Red Deer river - Gleniffer Lake oil spill - June 8, 2012Red Deer river - Gleniffer Lake oil spill - June 8, 2012Red Deer river - Gleniffer Lake oil spill - June 8, 2012
Oiled gulls at Gleniffer Lake - June 8, 2012Red Deer river - Gleniffer Lake oil spill - June 8, 2012Red Deer river - Gleniffer Lake oil spill - June 8, 2012
Red Deer river - Gleniffer Lake oil spill - June 8, 2012Red Deer river - Gleniffer Lake oil spill - June 8, 2012Red Deer river - Gleniffer Lake oil spill - June 8, 2012
Emergency command center on the west end of Gleniffer Lake - June 8, 2012

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