Darlene and Theresa Tanner, of Alix, photographed the storm that struck Calgary on June 13. The storm produced tennis ball-sized hail that shredded vinyl siding and shattered windows. (Photo by Team Tanner)

Wicked weather ‘just fizzles away,’ say storm chasers

More storm warnings than actual storms

Central Alberta storm chasers are still anxiously awaiting more photo-worthy weather.

Darlene Tanner, of Alix, said there have been plenty of local weather warnings, but few storms.

“Every time we go out, it just fizzles away here in central Alberta,” said Darlene, who is part of Team Tanner with Theresa Tanner.

“We haven’t had too much daytime heating. It seems it’s just a lot more rain than anything, and cloud.”

She said it’s the quietest season for the team since they began photographing storms about eight years ago.

“It’s very weird this year. Usually, it starts in June. We’re off to a slow start. We usually see a lot more lightning by this time, too.”

The period for summer storms generally ends in mid-August, so the window isn’t very big, she said.

“We’re just going to be patient here and wait. We have no choice.”

The team drove south on June 13 to track the storm that produced tennis ball-sized hail that shredded vinyl siding and shattered windows in Calgary’s northeast. They chased the storm all the way back to Alix, where hail damaged one of their vehicles.

“It was right behind us all the way home, and it kept getting bigger and bigger, faster and faster. We knew that hail was in there, because you could see that blueish-green colour in the clouds. If you can see that, you know there’s hail in there for sure,” Tanner said.


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Dan Kulak, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the biggest threat from summer storms is lightning. Alberta records an average of 400,000 lightning strikes per year.

“Every (lightning strike) is potentially fatal to somebody on the ground. Lightning kills more people in Canada per year than rain and hail and wind and tornadoes and hurricanes combined,” Kulak said.

He said most fatalities are caused by storms that don’t come with warnings. Only a fraction of the summer storms can be classified as severe storms.

“If you’re close enough to hear thunder in a quiet environment, you’re close enough to be struck by the next lightning strike coming from that storm,” Kulak said.

The agency’s website has a Canadian Lightning Danger Map that shows where lightning could occur in the next 10 minutes to help keep Canadians safe.


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