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Alberta faces severe thunderstorms


Heavy clouds before the storm
Heavy clouds before the storm

Nicole Kallmeyer, staff writer

September 1, 2010 — Severe thunderstorms are pounding the Prairies once again. Heavy rain, hail and funnel clouds have all been reported in Alberta.

Thunderstorm risk stretches across the Prairies
Thunderstorm risk stretches across the Prairies

Thunderstorms have been relentless across the Prairies this summer and although there are signs that the seasons are changing, storms are still striking. This time, it's Alberta that's facing the brunt of it.

Just before 4 p.m. local time on Wednesday, Environment Canada issued a tornado watch for areas in the south including Lethbridge, Taber and Milk River.

An unstable airmass is what helped to spark this latest bout of thunderstorms. There were reports of heavy rain and large hail and just south of Coaldale, a funnel cloud was spotted.

Hail batters down in Oyen, AB
Hail batters down in Oyen, AB

“The cold temperatures in Lethbridge are not the usual conditions we see during tornado season in the Prairies,” says Gerald Cheng, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “Heat is needed to give funnel clouds enough energy to touch down and cause severe damage.”

Alberta has seen below seasonal conditions lately. Last weekend temperatures in the High Level region dipped to the low teens and even single digits.

While the funnel clouds are not likely to touch the ground this time, Environment Canada advises those who see funnel clouds overhead to take shelter until they dissipate.

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