A tornado watch has been issued for Red Deer and a wide swath of Central Alberta stretching from Eckville to Stettler and Ponoka to Bowden.
The watch was issued at 2:55 p.m.
Environment Canada says that “conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms, which may produce tornadoes” any time from this afternoon to early evening. The agency is advising people to take cover immediately if threatening weather approaches.
In a tornado situation, Environment Canada recommends people take cover inside a strong building on the lowest possible floor, away from outside walls and windows.
Earlier, a severe thunderstorm watch and then warning was issued for most of Central Alberta. Those alerts regarding the fast east-moving storm system suggested dime-to-nickel-size hail could hit the area along with strong wind gusts and heavy rain.
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.