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Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Central Alberta

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for a wide swath of Central Alberta stretching from Stettler to Eckville and Ponoka to Innisfail.

The Environment Canada alert notes that severe thunderstorm conditions are possible from late morning to evening Thursday. It adds that severe storms are expected to develop early this afternoon in the Red Deer area before moving eastward.

It says the development of heavy rain and damaging hail and wind gusts is probable and that there is also a risk of a tornado.

On Wednesday, Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for the Red Deer, Ponoka, Innisfail and Stettler areas after a smoky haze from northern fires moved into the region. The advisory noted poor air quality and reduced visibility in the area, and said people with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions should monitor their symptoms and consult a physician if they worsen.

The air quality statement remains in effect.

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