Red Deer was a tenth of a degree shy of breaking a 60-year high

Red Deer was a rounding error away from setting a 60-year high for heat Monday.

Dan Kulak, an Environment Canada meteorologist based in Edmonton, said on that day in 1960, temperatures reached 31.1 C. This year, it soared to 31 C.

“There were three warmer days in the period of record,” said Kulak. “We also had 31.7 C in 1906 and 34.4 C in 1934.”

And the heat wave that hit Central Alberta was quickly followed up by widespread thunderstorms. Though Kulak said the two aren’t necessarily connected.

“It’s not necessarily the case that you’re going to get big storms every time it is hot,” said Kulak. “At Pine Lake 18 years ago, it was a 23 C day, and we had a tornado go through a campground, unfortunately.

“Keep an eye to the sky, an ear to the radio and another eye to your smartphone or Environment Canada’s website for a warning.”

There were reports of nickle-sized hail near Pine Lake and winds as high as 93 km/h near Olds at about 7 p.m.

“The storm only lasted about 18 minutes near Pine Lake,” said Kulak.

A lightning strike caused power outages in Olds, which led to both the north and south pump stations shutting down. The diesel generators suffered a “critical failure” according to a press release from the town.

“Lightning kills more people on average in any given year than a hail, rain wind, thunderstorms and hurricanes combined,” said Kulak. “Lightning is your number one threat from these short-lived storms.”

Monica Leedale, Olds communications co-ordinator, said the town’s director of operations Scott Chant was out at the pump stations Tuesday helping to fix the problem.

She said Fortis had water back up by 9:35 p.m.

Lightning also struck a barn near the intersection of Hwys 2 and 27. The barn caught fire and was lost in the blaze.

On the whole, July was a pretty average month temperature wise, with the monthly average temperature being 0.2 C above normal.

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