Alberta Foothills Weather

August 4 Sylvan Lake lightning show and August 6 hailstorm

Busy busy along the foothills the past few days.
I spent a few hours at Sylvan Lake on Thursday night watching a crazy electric storm between there and Gull Lake, more lighting than lightning bolts, but still quite the spectacle. Two hail planes were overhead the whole time, what a spooky scene as they were just far enough away to be silent, slipping into the clouds with their lights beaming ahead.
Constant intracloud flashes made for some interesting structure viewing in very brief intervals, I didn’t realize how spinny it was until I got a look at the photos.

Friday I was expecting more than what happened, even with hefty dewpoints and a nice southeast flow, only one cell could bust the cap and it made a beeline for downtown Calgary, covering a lot of the city in a thick blanket of hail while we were out watching ghosts west of here.

Saturday turned out to be more than I was expecting, only 18C and a lot less humid, but a cold front sweeping down from the northwest lit off some fantastic storms in the evening.
We went out to meet the one that was heading this way, catching it as it was just southwest of Rocky Mountain House. It had a nice inflow band from the northeast and a nasty core behind when we got the first good look under it. By the next stop, in about 5 minutes, it had started to develop a bit of a gust front, then it took off east.
We made a hasty retreat south and east, with it tracking along right beside us. A few attempts to get a bit more north were quickly abandoned when we realized it was right on us again.
The last pano is at #781 and #54, about 6 road miles from home, the core is closer than we thought. Trying to beat the core home, we spied a big cloud of dirt just ahead of the storm under some incredibly speeedy low level cloud zipping around in all directions. Not sure what the heck it was, there was a funnely looking little piece there, but didn’t seem to have anything above it. Whatever it was, it was inflow related, sucking into the storm. The last group of shots is out the side window at great speed on a gravel road in the near darkness. Today we went for a look see around the spot where this thing was sitting but couldn’t see anything more than some lodged crops.

ONE minute after we got in the house, the hail started. Quarter sized to start, we were waiting for a 2006 repeat and for the golfballs to start flying, but they didn’t come and most of the rest was the size of large peas. Driven by 70km/h wind they were still enough to shred the yard up pretty good, about as good as anything we saw looking around today.
It had to come this way sometime I guess.

August 4 Strathmore RADAR loop (270kb)
August 5 Strathmore RADAR loop (370kb)
August 6 Strathmore RADAR loop (500kb)
August 6 Visible Satellite loop (4.2mb)

Lightning storm north of Sylvan Lake,AB - Aug.4, 2011Lightning storm north of Sylvan Lake,AB - Aug.4, 2011Lightning storm north of Sylvan Lake,AB - Aug.4, 2011
Thunderstorm rolls out of the foothills south of Rocky Mountain House,AB - Aug.6, 2011
Thunderstorm building southwest of Rocky Moutain House,AB - Aug.6, 2011Thunderstorm gust front sweeps across a field of fresh hay bales west of Caroline,AB - Aug.6, 2011Gruesome HP supercell thunderstorm a mile from home base - Aug.6, 2011
High Precip supercell thunderstorm south of Sylvan Lake,AB - Aug.6, 2011
Tornado? Gustnado? I dunno. 1 mile east of #781, 1-2 miles north of #592, 8:24pm Aug.6,2011

3 Responses to “August 4 Sylvan Lake lightning show and August 6 hailstorm”

  1. 1
    Roberta Says:

    We were driving home (Rocky) from Sylvan Saturday night. From highway 11, the clouds towards Markerville were green. I wanted to head over, but we couldn’t. I would say those bottom photos are a tornado without the condensation funnel. There wasn’t even any weather warnings out at the time. Did you send them to EC?

    Great pictures – makes me regret not heading over there!

  2. 2
    Brandon Says:

    Hmmm is right. You and I had alot of the same looks of that beast, but you guys were closer to see that dust being kicked up. I was escaping that green circulation as it was bearing down on me fast. I do have a pano that shows that dust behind some trees from my location, but your photos do it more justice than mine. Excellent series as usual! I am behind on my accounts from that last few days but I should have them up soon.

  3. 3
    Pat Boomer Says:

    Hi Roberta
    I was wondering if you were watching when we were out on #22, surprised there wasn’t even a watch on it at that point, I thought it looked like it could use a warning already.
    There was some crazy movement in the scuddles above the dust-up, I wish it wasn’t going 80 so we could have got a bit of video of it. After looking around there, I’m stumped, was really expecting to see some sort of chew mark somewhere.
    I was going to post about my experience with EnviroCan but bit my finger and didn’t bother.
    For the record, I sent a pic at 8:00 from #766 and called them from Spruceview at 8:07. The warning was issued at 8:35

    Brandon what luck to have a tree block when you were that close! We were only 1/2 mile south of you.
    You can see the dust still kicking up from the same spot in the last single shot of the beast, to the right.

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