Welcome to Canada’s Hail Alley

Alberta gets most frequent and intense hailstorms in all of the country

Hail Alley is right here in central Alberta – stretching from Red Deer to Calgary.

Hence, the only cloud seeding program in Canada exists in Alberta.

Terry Krauss, project director of the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society, which runs the program, said even though other provinces have hailstorms, they don’t experience the same frequency and severity as Alberta does.

“The most frequent severe hailstorms are right here. This is called Hail Alley in central Alberta,” he said.

There are five cloud seeding aircrafts operated by about 10 to 12 pilots. Two of the aircrafts are based at the Red Deer Regional Airport, and the other three are at the Springbank Airport, west of Calgary.

The society has its own weather radar system at the Olds-Didsbury Airport and keeps track of daily forecasts for tracking and analysing data.

This is the 25th year of the program, which is funded by insurance companies in Alberta with the aim to prevent property damage.

The 24-year average is six days of walnut-sized hail, five days of golf-ball-size hail and one day with greater than golf-ball-size hail.

“In 2012, we had 22 days with golf-ball-sized hail and two with larger. And even in 2014, (we had) 18 days with golf-ball and four days with larger. So there has been a tendency within the past 10 years for more severe storms,” Krauss said.

“The severe weather conditions have intensified and the frequency of severe hailstorms with golf-ball sized hails or larger has gone up.”

This year has been average. So far, the cloud seeders have seeded 60 storms on 18 days.

Ideally, about 30 minutes before a storm hits, cloud seeding pilots head up in the skies in hopes of providing damage control.

Krauss said the goal is to convert all hail to pea-sized hail.

The aircrafts dispense silver iodide smoke particles using flares, which initiate ice crystals. The crystals compete for water in the cloud, so the giant-sized hail is downgraded to smaller pieces.

“Mother Nature only provides one ice crystal per litre of cloudy air at -20 C, so there’s a lot of liquid water and not nearly as much ice,” Krauss said.

“So we initiate many ice particles to compete for the liquid water, and it actually improves the precipitation process; makes rain easier, rather than large, damaging hail.”

The program covers the Ponoka area in the north, High River in the south, as well as the foothills of the Rockies and Rocky Mountain House and Sundre area.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Alberta WeatherSevere weather

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

(From left) Cessna 340 and King Air C90B are two of the five cloud seeding aircrafts in Alberta at the Red Deer Regional Airport. The other three are based out of Springbank Airport, west of Calgary. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Just Posted

Painting of slain Red Deer doctor and his family is a reminder ‘we care’

Remembering the family of the late Dr. Walter Reynolds

COVID-19: More than 1 million Albertans have been tested to date

More than one million Albertans have been tested to date at least… Continue reading

Updated: Family escapes fire for a second time

A Red Deer family whose home was damaged by fire Sunday are… Continue reading

Residents of apartment building displaced due to fire in Olds

Several residents of an apartment building in Olds have been displaced after… Continue reading

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

David Marsden: Molly Banister extension must be kept

‘It would be a mistake to take a sensible response to future residential development off the table’

Construction will close two downtown streets

Work is being done to prepare for the new Red Deer Justice Centre

Pandemic, not climate change, is the priority for now

‘We know climate change is sitting out there. It is not going farther away, it’s coming closer’

Parrot ready for snowboard season after modifying training during pandemic

Not concerned about holding an event on American soil

Nearly 1M who died of COVID-19 also illuminated treatment

The nearly 1 million people around the world who have lost their… Continue reading

Most Read