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Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott breaks down the severe system that's targeting western Canada.

Meanest storms on continent target Alberta

Chris Scott
Chief Meteorologist

Thursday, July 17, 2014, 3:56 PM - It’s Texas and Alberta duking it out for storm supremacy today. Both areas of North America are set for big storms. Alberta’s could be the meanest, especially for hail. Parts of Saskatchewan may share in the action this evening.

Storms throughout the morning hours have been producing frequent lightning in parts of central Alberta, from Swan Hills to Round Hill. But the big boys look to develop mid-afternoon through the Red Deer-Calgary corridor.

EXTENDED ACTIVE WEATHER COVERAGE: Tune in to The Weather Network for live updates on the summer storms in your area. Our team of reporters and meteorologists in the field provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date coverage.

Severe storms should fire west of the QE2 this afternoon and then gain intensity as they march east into warmer and moister air. There is no guarantee that any one place will get hit. In fact, we may get through this day without any significant damage. But these are the kind of setups that can create the big hailers that Alberta is so famous for – and if one of these intense cells hits a town or city, then significant damage could occur.

Our forecast team is watching every new piece of data that comes in. There is even a slight risk of a tornado as these storms move east towards the Saskatchewan border given the amount instability, moisture and wind shear.

One factor that could knock down the intensity of storms just a bit is the smoke from B.C. fires. The smoke will serve to limit the sun’s heating of the ground just slightly. Just another tricky part of the forecast to consider.

However, it’s unlikely the smoke blanket will be enough to smother storms completely. A strong jet stream disturbance moving in from B.C. will be the overwhelming driver of Alberta’s weather this afternoon. This disturbance coupled with sufficient heat and moisture should be enough to kick off some mean storms.

Watch our live coverage on TV for the latest radar analysis.

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