June has arrived and that means summer is officially only a few short weeks away.
So, what kind of summer can the Calgary area expect this year? The answer to that depends on who you ask.
Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Weather Network have similar predictions — both calling for things to be slightly warmer and drier than usual.
The ever-beloved Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cooler and wetter summer, though to be fair, the managing editor of the 230-year-old publication says just barely.
“Average temperature [in] July, a degree cooler. August, two degrees cooler,” Jack Burnett says. “You average that out, that’s one degree cooler for the summer. So that’s hardly even registered.”
As for precipitation, the Old Farmer’s Almanac expects a slightly drier June while July and August will be a bit wetter than usual, but again not by much.
“By the time all is said and done for the summer, we see only about 10 millimetres more precipitation,” Burnett adds.
Bring on the heat
Matt Grinter, meteorologist with the Weather Network, expects Calgary won’t be as hot as last year, but will likely experience above normal temperatures and some heat waves.
That’s due to a heat dome that will settle over the southern and central parts of the US throughout the summer, which Grinter says could lead to some drought conditions across southern Alberta.
“June is Calgary’s wettest month on average throughout the year with around 104 millimetres of rain,” Grinter explains, adding how things shape up this month could make or break the rest of summer.
“If we start to look closer to normal or even above normal rainfall amounts, that’s definitely a good scenario to help set up for the rest of the summer throughout July and August,” he says.
“If we come a little bit below normal or well below normal, unfortunately, that’s not going to be the best news for the agriculture industry.”
Wild Calgary weather
Anyone who has spent time in Calgary during the summer months will know that the city is no stranger to extreme weather.
Just two years ago, the region was hit with a massive hail storm that ended up causing almost $1.2 billion in insured damage and was named the fourth most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Grinter says hail is to be expected this year. However, there are no signals to highlight whether it will be more or less active.
Kyle Fougere, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada says Alberta can be susceptible to large hail — more than 20 millimetres in size — thanks to the province’s colder atmospheres and strong thunderstorms with strong updrafts.
And the thunder rolls
“In the province, we average about 65 severe hail reports in the summertime,” Fougere says.
Alberta will see about 100 severe weather reports in a typical year according to Fougere, and he adds Environment Canada issues more than 1,500 severe weather watches and warnings in the summertime.
In any given summer, he says Alberta averages about 800,000 lightning strikes so it’s vital that people are prepared.
“It’s really important to make sure that as you prepare for your summer activities, that you have a way to receive those watches and warnings should they be issued, just to protect yourself and to take evasive action, should it be required,” Fougere advises.
Calgarians will remember the summer of 2021 as the summer of smoke. Haze from wildfires blanketed much of Alberta last year, putting a bit of a damper on the season.
Grinter has a clearer outlook for the summer of 2022.
“Now that’s not to say that wildfires aren’t going to be an issue this year, but we’re not expecting it to be as extreme as last year,” he says.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry says 67% of wildfires last year were human-caused and 100% preventable.
Provincial officials are expecting the fire season to be near to slightly above normal this year due to mainly seasonal temperatures and normal precipitation.
“However, there may be isolated areas of above-normal dryness in the far northwest boreal forest and along the southern east slopes, as these areas may see slightly below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures,” reads a statement from the province.
It’s predicted fire activity for August will be slightly above normal and people are reminded to properly extinguish campfires by soaking, stirring, and soaking again.
Predicting the unpredictable
Predicting the weather isn’t an easy gig. Meteorologists are often the butt of jokes when they get it wrong.
Interestingly enough, humour is a big part of the Old Farmer’s Almanac mission. When Robert B. Thomas started the publication way back in 1792, his motto was to be “useful, with a pleasant degree of humour.”
In fact, that motto still adorns the cover of the Old Farmer’s Almanac all these years later.
“We always like to stay close to our roots,” Burnett says, adding they have a lot of fun putting the almanac together but they also take it seriously because it’s been a staple for so many readers for so long.
“We have 231 years of tradition to protect. The past is very important to us, but by the same token, we’re wired to the gills with all the latest technology,” he says, concluding that all signs point to a good summer in Calgary this year.
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