How Alberta manages severe summer weather

Severe summer weather has become commonplace in Alberta over recent years.

Some of the costliest Canadian weather events have come from hail storms in and around the Calgary area.

READ MORE: Severe weather hammers Alberta Thursday

One of the methods used to mitigate storm damage is through something called cloud seeding.

Terry Krause, senior consulting meteorologist for the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society, told News Talk 770’s Bruce Kenyon on Thursday that his crew monitors incoming weather systems in the summer to determine which clouds need to be treated.

”We do not fly into the intense storm already visible on radar. We are treating the developing feeder clouds just coming up before they show up on the radar just along the upwind edge.” Krause said.

He told Kenyon his company has been opearting for 22 years and that data shows the seeding does help decrease the intensity of incoming storms.

“It’s very difficult to eliminate the hail and convert it all, but to reduce the amount of hail is extremely important.”

The Alberta Hail Suppression Project uses planes with smoke flares containing silver iodide to reduce the size of hail developing in storm clouds.

Krause said data shows storms have increased in intensity over the past five years.

Environment Canada’s Kirk Torneby agrees.

Torneby told Global News Thursday there has been an increase in severe weather events since 1984, but it would be impossible to pinpoint a single reason.

He said the advancement of social media has certainly played a role in the number of incidents reported, and you also have to consider the increase in urban populations.

“There are more buildings to hit.” Torneby said.

Krause said his company normally flies 30 days in the summer season, and went up 35 days in 2016, “with 139 cloud-seeding flights, seeding 96 storms in the Calgary to Red Deer area.”

Torneby said 2016 was the busiest severe weather year on record, with 144 reports of hail across the province of Alberta. The next closest year was in 2012 with 116 reports of hail over 20 millimetres in size.

The Environment Canada meteorologist blames some of that active weather on the shift from El Nino to La Nina.

“As long as we get lots of moisture, the water on the ground can contribute to adding to the severity of thunderstorms.”

2016 was one of the wettest summers on record in Alberta.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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