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Thunderstorms pound Prairie provinces

Prairies facing severe thunderstorm risk
Prairies facing severe thunderstorm risk

Lisa Varano, staff writer

August 3, 2010 — It's an all familiar story in the Prairie provinces today. The weather pattern keeps repeating itself for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Isolated severe thunderstorms are bringing torrential downpours, flooding, powerful winds and large hail -- day after day.

Heavy rains making for poor driving conditions in Yorkton, SK
Heavy rains making for poor driving conditions in Yorkton, SK

The Prairie provinces are at a widespread risk for summer thunderstorms again today, but it's hard to pinpoint exactly where the active weather will strike next.

“The Prairies are fantastic for these pop-up thunderstorms. It's very difficult to predict which area is going to get hit, and which isn't,” explains Mark Robinson, a meteorologist here at The Weather Network.

Due to a trough, there will be scattered thunderstorms for most of the region througout the day.

Large hail from damaging thunderstorms in Calgary, AB
Large hail from damaging thunderstorms in Calgary, AB

The Prairie weather was no different over this past long weekend. On Sunday in Manitoba, lightning struck a power line and caused a power outage in parts of Winnipeg. Thunderstorms also caused damage in Saskatchewan on Saturday, when baseball-sized hail fell on Carlyle during a tornado warning.

Alberta was not left out of the active weather in the Prairies over the past few days. A lightning strike started a house fire in Calgary over the weekend. And on Friday, concerns over lightning prompted organizers of the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose to shut down the music festival's main stage. Campers were urged to seek shelter as storms approached. Intense thunderstorms hit the event for the second year in a row. In 2009, one woman died when the stage collapsed during a violent storm.

Weather Network meteorologist Patrick Cool says that the Prairies still have all the elements for thunderstorms. A southerly flow is bringing moist air from Gulf of Mexico. That warm air sits under cool air, until it rises and thunderstorms are created. “We know that the ingredients are there. Everything is ripe for severe thunderstorms,” he says.

The summer of 2010 could be remembered for all these severe storms, and the effects they've had. “Unfortunately, the damage is done, regardless of what happens throughout the rest of the summer. Things don't look too good for August. We're seeing more upper level troughs come through and more cold air in the upper levels,” Cool says.

With files from Rayna Taylor

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