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4 central Alberta communities hit record highs Tuesday

August trending to be hotter and drier than normal
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Central Alberta was sizzling on Tuesday with temperature records set in several places.

Coronation, Lacombe, Nordegg and Stettler areas all set records with temperatures in the 30s C.

Coronation hit 33.8 C, breaking the 1996 record of 33.1 C. Record have been kept in that area since 1912.

Stettler area hit 33.5 C, the highest temperature in 105 years and breaking the previous record of 33 C set in 1996. Lacombe set a new 116-year record at 31.9 C, eclipsing the previous high of 31.7 from 1915. A new 108-year record was also set in Nordegg area, which reached 28.3, topping the previous record of 28 C set in 1915.

Generally, it has been a hotter summer than average.

August temperatures have been warmer than usual, said Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Perri Lang. As of Aug. 27, the average temperature has been 16 C, compared with the 30-year average of 14.9 C.

“So far, it’s the 20th warmest August in 111 years,” said Lang.

“The entire summer has been pretty darn dry. I think May was the real kicker.

“It was one of the hottest Mays on record for much of British Columbia and Alberta. That kind of set the stage for what we’re seeing with respect to the wildfires and the dryness.”

In Red Deer, it was the hottest May in 109 years of record keeping. The pace was set on the very first day of the month with an all-time May 1 high of 27.2 C, shattering the old record of 25.1 C set in 1980.

Over the month, the daily and nightly temperatures averaged 14.4 C far above the normal average of 9.7 C. May 2023 beat the old record of 13.4 C set in 2018. The third hottest May was in 1998 with 13.1 C.

At least nine communities in Alberta set average temperature records for the month of May. Fort Chipewyan was the hottest with an average of 15.5 C, almost double its normal average of 7.7 C.

There were a lot of ups and downs in July, but the daily mean average was 16.3 C which was slightly above the normal of 15.9 C.

It was the seventh driest July for Red Deer in 110 years of records with only about a quarter of usual precipitation hitting the city.

Red Deer received 25.6 mm of precipitation, or 27 per cent, of what normally falls in July. The month is typically Red Deer’s wettest month with an average of 94.4 mm.

June weather in the Red Deer area was hotter, the eighth warmest all time. The average of highs and lows for June was 15.1 C. compared to a June average of 13.7.

It was also the 16th wettest month. The city received 142 mm of moisture, compared to an average of 94 mm for the month.

“You can’t say it’s an average summer,” said Lang. “Nothing these days is average. Everything is kind of all over the place, it seems.”

Thunderstorm activity has also been up and down. Statistics are not in for August yet. July had the eighth-highest number of lightning strikes in the 21 years of records being kept. June was the eighth lowest.

“A whole bunch of things are needed for thunderstorms. One of the main ingredients is moisture and a big percentage of moisture for thunderstorms comes from the crops that grow.”

In a dry year, crops provide less moisture. Also, less moisture is given off as crops mature, which tends to mean fewer thunderstorms as harvest season approaches.

“The weather pattern also has to support thunderstorm development as well. If it’s not a typical summer pattern you’re not going to see as much in the way of thunderstorm activity.”

(Dryness) really takes the zap out of thunderstorms, it really does.”

Based on how dry August has been, Lang expects the lightning statistics will indicate fewer thunderstorms than normal.

Through Aug. 27, Red Deer has had the 36th driest August in 111 years. With four days left in the month, 43.3 mm of precipitation has been recorded, compared with the average of 71.6 mm.



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Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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