Late June and early July is the heart of tornado season for Alberta and as of June 27, the province has already had five verified tornado reports. This is approximately 32 per cent of the average annual amount of tornados that Alberta sees per year.
A broad upper trough over western Canada has helped draw moisture up from the United States, which contributed to instability in the atmosphere. Several moisture-laden systems passing through this region also added to the conditions that have been favourable for landspout tornadoes, which are tornadoes that are short-lived and less intense than supercell tornadoes.
The most recent tornado that the province recorded occurred in Millet on June 26. The report from Environment Canada states that a dust cloud was observed at the base of the funnel and because there were no reports of damage, that tornado has been given a preliminary rating of EF0.
This was the fourth EF0 tornado that has been reported in June (as of writing this), with the others striking two kilometres away from Sexsmith (June 25), five kilometres north of Fort Macleod (June 23), and one near Seven Persons (June 14).
The first tornado of the year in all of Canada occurred on April 24 near Peers, Alberta, while May closed out with zero tornado reports in the province.
"It has actually been a fairly quiet season across the country so far, with only weak tornadoes being verified, we are now moving into the typically 'summer' storm regime and significant tornado activity will be more likely," says Dr. David Sills, executive director of the Northern Tornadoes Project. This project aims to improve the detection of tornadoes throughout Canada, enhance predictions of severe and extreme weather, better mitigate damages from storms, and investigate the future impacts of climate change.
Alberta typically sees an average of around 15.4 tornadoes per year, which is the province that has the second highest amount annually.
Saskatchewan usually sees around 18 tornadoes a year, which is the highest amount across all provinces and territories.
Dr. Sills explains that the annual average tornado values are based on data from 1980 to 2009, and between this time period, the number of verified weak tornadoes has increased somewhat due to increased verification efforts, public awareness, and availability of cell phones and social media.