“Clearly, it has been wet. You don’t need somebody from Toronto to tell you that,” joked David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, adding spring has been wet from April through to June throughout Lethbridge County and area.
Phillips noted there are a few weather stations in the Lethbridge area and it seems like night and day between the individual stations, in regards to the values the stations report.
“They’re all well above normal but one is like record-breaking and the other is maybe not so. I can’t really sort that out and it’s the very nature of precipitation. The precipitation time of year tends to be rather convective. It means, it tends to be raining on your front yard but not your back yard. Seeing these differences of precipitation — is not surprising. They would be in the winter time or in the early spring or late fall but when you get these big black clouds hanging over you and the rain gauges are there, you’re going to fill that rain gauge where somewhere else in the community, you’re not going to see it,” said Phillips.
One of the stations, Phillips said — the Canada Department of Agriculture station — is showing for June, 291 millimetres of rain.
“You normally would see in the community in June — 82 millimetres of rain. That is incredible. It turns out to be the wettest month on record. What you have just gone through, you lived through, you survived — the wettest. When we look at records and go back to the 1800s, we see the wettest June in the past was 272 millimetres of rain back in 2005,” he explained.
Looking at records dating back to 1902, in May of that year Phillips said, there was 287 millimetres of rain reported.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s June or May or whatever — this month that you just came through was the wettest on record.”
It was a bit surprising, Phillips added — half the days in June didn’t have any rain. Some days, according to reports, there was a whopping 100 millimetres of rain with other days reaching 30 and 40 millimetres of rain per day.
“There was a stretch there, that you had 170 millimetres of rain in three days. That, even in the wettest part of Canada, would be something to write home about. Clearly, no question about it, it was wet. May was wet and April was wet. The ground already had a good amount of rain. Farmers weren’t complaining about the precipitation situation.”
Lethbridge, Phillips said, in an average year gets 277 millimetres of rain.
“You had more rain in June then you would have all year, which is incredible. I don’t think any place in Canada can claim that this month,” he said, adding there were 15 days with rain in June, but normally the area would get 14 days of rain. It wasn’t as if Lethbridge County and area had a lot more days of rain. “There were actually some sunny days. It was like a monsoon.”
“You don’t talk about a monsoon in one of the driest areas of Canada and there it was.”
Phillips said for southwestern Alberta, according to models, for July-September expect warmer than normal temperatures but of course there are no guarantees.
The models also show drier than normal weather patterns, as well.
“All that wet weather that you were cursing may be the wet weather you’re blessing later on,” Phillips said, adding because of the fact the area may need the moisture throughout the next few months of summer.
Will an abundance of moisture bring severe weather back to southern Alberta this summer?
“Certainly, what you might see, is more humid kind of conditions,” said Phillips, noting the dry heat in southern Alberta is similar to an Arizona heat, rather than a Florida heat in humid conditions.
“But with all that standing water and with the crops growing and the ranchlands all greened up — you would see more daily evaporation, so you might feel a little more humid,” he noted, adding with four to five degrees more than normal temperatures it may feel a little bit more muggy in the air.
“Typically, if you do get warmer than normal conditions you tend to have more of that convective kind of stuff.”
But that doesn’t mean southern Albertans have to head to the storm cellars quite yet, does it?
“You might see a little bit more active weather. The problem is, it’s not necessarily a perfect fit. You can have warm and dry and it just be nothing but sunshine and no weather. It’s not always. We don’t have forecasts of a seasonal nature for severe weather because they just don’t work,” said Phillips, adding it’s not a slam dunk forecasting severe weather.
Phillips added Alberta does get between 15-16 tornadoes a year. Southern Alberta also gets hail storms but luckily, Phillips said, severe weather is usually short-lived.