A dry winter and a dry fall, combined with a record heat event made for some nasty contrasts in the weather last year in Red Deer.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Red Deer recorded its second driest year in the past 96 years in 2021.
“That is so significant,” said Sara Hoffman a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Overall, Red Deer had 278 millimeters of precipitation in 2021, down significantly from the average of 487mm.
A typical fall in Red Deer sees an average precipitation for September, October and November around 87.3mm for the city, but only 11.7mm fell last year.
The city only received 9.6mm of precipitation for the entire winter in early 2021, with the average usually around 49.9mm.
It was also the 22nd warmest year on record for the city with 97 years of data.
“Despite the cold December and cold last February, the year still ends up being on the warm side of normal,” Hoffman said.
A record heatwave that killed nearly 185 people in Alberta this summer and set record temperatures across Central Alberta pushed the yearly average temperature into the higher than average range. There were at least 212 daily temperature records set across the province. Red Deer reported a record temperature of 34.8 C on June 30 beating the previous record of 30.6 C set in 1944.
“The summer was so above normal and so impactful,” Hoffman said.
“It was a significant, impactful heat event that was quite literally a deadly heat event.”
Hoffman noted that Red Deerians can expect extremes again in 2022 – both record highs and lows as climate change continues to be exacerbated.
“That (heat) event, a few scientists in the United States worked carefully to model and do statistical analysis and they determined that heat event, we can say with absolute certainty was intensified by or made worse by climate change,” she said.
“We can expect with our changing climate, more extremes in our weather. More above normal, more below normal. I would say, as much as that makes me really unhappy – I do expect a trend in extreme weather to continue.”