Alberta Foothills Weather

July 5, 6 – Foothills softies and a trip down Bergen road

The farmer’s tan has gotten under way the past couple days, trolling around mostly in the sun watching what could roll out of the hills. It hasn’t been much.
Thursday afternoon I met up with Brandon west of here and we got out the lawnchairs at a nice viewpoint north of Stauffer to observe whatever the footies might stew up for us. Warm air was building in aloft from the south already but a little disturbance was forecast to jump over the mountains from BC and perhaps stir something up.
Not a lot to see, but something to look at everywhere, storms were really struggling to get going all along the hills, unable to get to even 25,000 feet. We watched a sad looking thing to the south pour its insides out trying to get out of the hills for a few hours, then it finally got free and headed east. It got a tornado warning but looked pathetic from this side so I went home. It did start to look better on RADAR from about Olds, but storms often look better on RADAR than they do from the ground. Brandon went south for a look and said it had some spinny stuff in it, can’t wait to see some photos of it from that side.

I wasn’t expecting to see anything worth looking at yesterday with the warm pushing in from the south, but if it’s there what can ya do? Before noon the sprouts were going up to the west, looking sad to start but after a few tries a nice looking cell finally came out for a run at Sundre and Olds. I got in front of it as it was starting to turn south at Didsbury, ending up a few miles west of Carstairs in a pea patch watching little eddies floating around in the base and some nice lightning bolts. It wasn’t interested in doing much, having a hard time getting any altitude, pulsing a few times and dying off shortly after crossing the QE2.
That was fine with me, the sun was out and it was as short trip up to Bergen road.

I spent about an hour looking around the area of the wind event on July 3, and I think it was a wind event, not that a tornado isn’t a wind event, but from what I saw it was more likely a straight line wind, a heckuva big gust.
What I saw reminded me of the damage around Markerville after the nasty gust-front driven hailstorm we got here in 2006 but with a lot less hail damage. Everything I saw was blown to the northeast, along the track of the storm. Trees, debris, what was left of canola fields, everything going one way. I did not go off the range roads and tried not to gape into folks’ damaged yards too much so there certainly could be a lot I didn’t see.
There were a few “huh?”s along the way, the older house on the south side with big old trees does look like a tornado went by, but just across the road, not a shingle bent or even a tree down. Big hay shed blown apart, but at the two farms a few hundred yards down the road on the same track, nothing. Across the road is a hay tarp still attached to the bales. The shed likely had its big door open to the south and got a big mouthful of wind.
I haven’t heard the official word on what it will be called yet.

Now the heat is on, and I’m getting antsy.
Evapotranspiration is at maximum, crops are heading out and the canola is just about to explode into a yellow sea across the prairies. Temperatures in the 30C range fill the 5 day forecast and it is supposed to be too warm aloft, too quiet wind-wise for any storms to form. If the models are right.
A large amount of convective energy is going to be trapped overhead, waiting for a ripple in the jet, or a wiggle in the dryline, or a big tree to fall over out west of Sundre and it’s on like donkey kong.
The next batch are unlikely to be softies.

Map and photos of wind damage area along Bergen Road west of Olds, AB - July 6, 2012Thunderstorm west of Sylvan Lake, AB - July 5, 2012Thunderstorm northwest of Carstairs, AB - July 6, 2012
Thunderstorm northwest of Carstairs, AB - July 6, 2012Thunderstorm east of Carstairs, AB - July 6, 2012Thunderstorm approaching of Carstairs, AB - July 6, 2012

July 5, 2012 Strathmore RADAR loop
July 6, 2012 Strathmore RADAR loop

A few minutes of timelapse from west of Carstairs as the storm was taking a dip to the south, and about the last half hour of it’s convectivity before it started to cave in on itself.

One Response to “July 5, 6 – Foothills softies and a trip down Bergen road”

  1. 1
    Cindy Says:

    I wish I understood more of the technical stuff, but enjoy your narrative and images very much. The time-lapse is awesome – must learn to do that. Curious why you don’t keep up your photography website – your pics are really great!

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