GFM Network News


This map shows the total amount of precipitation that has fallen across the Prairies so far this agricultural year (which runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31) compared to historical amounts. Most regions have seen near-average amounts of precipitation, with only a few small pockets in south-central Alberta and Manitoba receiving below average. Wet areas were found along the northern edges and in southeastern Saskatchewan.

Why Alberta gets more than its fair share of hail

The number or size of thunderstorms is less important than how close the freezing layer is to the ground

It’s time to continue our series of articles on different types of severe summer weather. I like to re-examine these topics every year or two due to the importance of understanding the different types of severe weather, and also because most people find this aspect of weather so fascinating. In this issue we are going to […] Read more

Thunderstorms are powerful events in their own right, but Mother Nature has the ability to add things to the mix to make them even worse.

Mother Nature’s recipe for making very severe thunderstorms

There are some key ingredients that (usually) are 
needed to create a truly wicked summer storm

As the heat continues to build across the Prairies, the chances for thunderstorms have also increased. We began our look at thunderstorm fundamentals that lead to garden-variety thunderstorms. But while these types of thunderstorms are fun to watch, we all know how quickly they can turn into severe thunderstorms. A couple of weeks ago we […] Read more


This map shows the total amount of precipitation that has fallen across the Prairies so far this growing season compared to historical values. It continues to be a dry start to the growing season across nearly 
all of Manitoba and much of Saskatchewan, with wide areas reporting values that are very low to extremely low. 


Diving a little deeper into summer weather and tornadoes

Tornadoes are nearly impossible to study but we do know a lot 
about the mechanics of how they form

In this instalment, we’ll continue our look at severe thunderstorms, and specifically, the most deadly part — tornadoes. While eastern parts of the Prairies have only seen a few isolated severe thunderstorms, parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta have already seen their fair share. I think most Canadians were more than impressed, and maybe a little bit […] Read more

This map shows the amount of precipitation compared to average that fell across the Prairies over the 30-day period ending on May 25. It continues to be a tale of east versus west, with most of Alberta reporting average to above-average amounts, while in Manitoba amounts have been well below average. In Saskatchewan, southern and eastern regions have been dry while northern sections have been wet.

Tornado season is upon us — here’s what to watch for

The area between the storm and cloud, clouds with bags hanging from them, and the wind are keys in spotting the danger

So far in our look at severe summer weather, and in particular thunderstorms, we have looked at how thunderstorms form, how they can grow into severe thunderstorms, and finally, how hail is produced. Next up on the severe thunderstorm list is tornadoes! Before we begin our look at tornadoes though, I think we have to […] Read more


This time I thought I'd take a break from precipitation maps. These temperature graphs for Red Deer (chosen because it is the most central location in Alberta) show the daily maximum and minimum temperatures along with the departure from average for the last 365 days (ending on May 13). Looking at the pattern in the centre graph, it will be interesting to see what the next month might hold in store for Alberta. Will we continue to see a shorter and less pronounced warm spell? Or will we see a rebound since the last below-average period was less intense than the previous ones?

Cooking up thunderstorms with Mother Nature

Severe thunderstorms are a fascinating phenomena and you need 
the right conditions to come together

Thunderstorm season isn’t too far off so we’ll continue our annual look at what is arguably one of the most fascinating weather phenomena we see in our part of the world. I always like to begin our look at thunderstorms by touching upon one of my biggest weather pet peeves, which is when people mix […] Read more

This map shows the total amount of precipitation that fell across the Prairies compared to average during the 30-day period ending on June 9. It is evident that this has been a fairly active period, with a large portion of all three Prairie provinces showing near- to above-average amounts of rainfall. The wettest regions were found in Alberta, stretching from Grande Prairie southeastwards towards Coronation and western Saskatchewan and southeastern Saskatchewan to southwestern Manitoba. Interestingly, north-central Saskatchewan was very dry during this period.

It’s that time of year when severe summer weather and tornadoes can form

Tornadoes have occurred in nearly all regions of Canada — 
here is what to look for when a severe storm is approaching

As we enter the peak season for severe weather across the Canadian Prairies, I figured now would be a good time to continue our look at severe weather and tornadoes. While Alberta doesn’t see the same number of tornadoes relative to areas to the east and south, the province is still subject to these events. Before […] Read more


This map shows the total amount of precipitation that fell across Alberta during the 30-day period ending on April 11. Southern and central regions, for the most part, were very dry, with most regions seeing less than 10 millimetres. The central and northern Peace Region was also quite dry. The wet areas were in the extreme southwest along with the Northern Region, where more than 55 millimetres of precipitation were reported in some areas.

An early spring may lead to an early start to thunderstorm season

These awe-inspiring storms are associated with hot, 
humid days — but they can form under other conditions, too

With a pretty warm first half of April across Alberta I won’t be surprised if we end up seeing an early start to thunderstorm season. So I figured that maybe we should have an early start to my annual look at thunderstorms. To begin with, we’ll need to talk about one of my weather pet peeves, […] Read more

This map shows the total amount of precipitation that fell across Alberta during 2015, well almost. It covers the 365-day period ending on Dec. 15. 
You can see that overall, it was a fairly dry year, with parts of the southern, northern, and Peace River regions experiencing one-in-12-year to greater than one-in-50-year dryness. The wettest areas (green) only saw near-average amounts.

When Mother Nature goes to extremes, the consequences are massive

Whether it’s heat or cold, dry or wet, you can only hope 
these records will stand for a long, long time

Each year Environment Canada puts out its Top 10 weather stories and I like to go through them taking a more western focus. I thought it might be interesting to go back over the last 115 years or so and look at some of the biggest weather stories to hit the Canadian Prairies — according […] Read more


Why does El Niño have such a big impact on our weather?

It’s all about heat and the atmosphere’s aversion to imbalances 
when it comes to hot and cold


A few weeks ago while waiting for a triathlon to start, a thunderstorm rolled through the region forcing everyone to run for shelter. While listening to people talk during the storm I overheard a weather-related idea or story that I’ve actually been mulling in my head for a while now, but I still haven’t figured […] Read more

This map shows total precipitation during the 60-day period ending on May 25 as a per cent of the long-term average. Looking at the map, all of the red really jumps out at you across Alberta and Saskatchewan, indicating well-below-average amounts of precipitation. The only wet areas were in southern Manitoba, small areas of central Saskatchewan, and parts of northern Alberta, where amounts were 115 to 150 per cent of the average range.

What’s happening above when it comes down in buckets all day long

It’s been a dry spring, but we’re moving into the time 
of year when heavy rainfall events occur more frequently

So far this spring, a good portion of Alberta and Saskatchewan has not seen any heavy rainfall events. If you check out the map above you’ll see the large red and amber areas that represent rainfall amounts that are 60 per cent of average or less. Hopefully, my writing about heavy rainfall won’t put a jinx […] Read more