Central Alberta may be in for more supercell thunderstorm activity on Friday, similar to what the region experienced Wednesday night.
Kyle Fougere, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said thunderstorms fired along the foothills from Okotoks to Edson on Wednesday.
“One of those storms, the one near Sylvan Lake, it did produce a funnel cloud. We received some reports that it may have produced a tornado, which we are investigating,” Fougere said.
He said Sylvan Lake also saw toonie to golf ball-sized hail.
So far this year, Alberta has experienced 21 tornadoes, and more thunderstorms are expected in the foothills on Friday, likely north of Red Deer.
“We’re still in our summer severe weather season,” Fougere said.
“If anyone has plans, especially with the long weekend, they should make sure they have a way to receive watches and warnings, and that they have a plan to take action should severe weather threaten their area.”
Storm chasers Theresa and Darlene Tanner, of Alix, caught up with Wednesday’s supercell near Blackfalds.
“It was pretty cool. That cloud was definitely pretty nice looking,” Theresa said about the supercell they photographed about 15 kilometres east of Blackfalds.
“(Clouds) were definitely very low. When they get low like that, you kind of wonder what’s going to happen. There was quite some intense lightning too.”
The pair have been chasing storms in the area for about nine years and prefer to stay a healthy distance away from vehicle-damaging hail as well as dangerous looking supercells.
“We don’t get too close. You just never know when these things are going to drop a tornado,” Theresa said.
Storm chaser Ronnie Rabena, who watched the structure of the clouds while he was about 15 kilometres southeast of Sylvan Lake, agreed it was a supercell with rotation.
“It was definitely beautiful, for sure. It was pretty slow moving as well,” Rabena said.
He started a group called Twisted Chasers in 2012, which has grown to include 18 people who chase storms around Alberta.
So far this season, members have spotted two tornadoes — one near Crossfield and the other north of Lethbridge — and chasers have become a growing part of the storm warning system.
“(Environment Canada) can only see so much on radar. It will show there might possibly be a tornado touchdown. Unless there are spotters out there that can confirm it’s touched down, they wouldn’t know. Same thing with hail.
“It’s definitely been a pretty active season. Pretty crazy,” Rabena said.
Fougere said social media is a great way for Environment Canada to receive storm reports when people use #abstorm. They can also email or call.
“We don’t encourage people to go storm chasing. We want people to take evasive action from the storms, rather than move towards them. But we know there are people out there that do storm chase, and we do appreciate the reports,” Fougere said.