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The science behind Canada's 'Hail Alley'

Wednesday, July 22nd 2020, 9:24 am - Summer landscapes can transform into winter-like scenes in minutes in this part of Canada.

Giant chunks of ice fall commonly from the sky in one part of Canada, causing widespread damage to homes, vehicles, and crops.

Nearly every year, southern and central Alberta are impacted by hail. In fact, three out of Canada's top ten costliest weather disasters are the result of hail in the Calgary area.

That's life in Canada's 'hail alley

The greatest frequency of hailstorms in the country occurs between Calgary and Red Deer. What's so special about this area?

prhail ugc craig hilts File photo. Uploaded to by Craig Hilts.

There are three main reasons.

  • Alberta's croplands provide a source of moist air, which is fuel for thunderstorms.
  • When this moist air heads toward the Rocky Mountains, it is forced upwards which can trigger the development of storms.
  • Finally, the higher elevations of east of the mountains mean the freezing level is closer to the ground than in other areas, allowing the hail to make it to the ground before melting in the air.

Since these conditions come together so frequently in this part of Canada in the summer, hail storms are common.

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