Southern Albertans warned to stay inside as severe thunderstorms sweep in

Severe thunderstorms are expected to sweep into southern Alberta Thursday afternoon, Environment Canada warns.

Heavy rain, strong wind gusts and nickel-sized hail could hit

Matt Melnyk captured this photo of lightning striking in a field near Airdrie, Alta., earlier in July. Two severe thunderstorms are expected to sweep into southern Alberta in the afternoon, Environment Canada said at about 1 p.m. Thursday. (Matt Melnyk)

A cluster of severe thunderstorms are expected to sweep into southern Alberta Thursday afternoon, Environment Canada warns. 

The agency issued severe thunderstorm warnings for Clearwater County near Nordegg and Ya-Ha-Tinda and for the M.D. of Foothills near Longview shortly before 2 p.m.

Additional warnings for a stationary storm near Oyen and Cereal that's expected to bring in torrential rainfall, and a cluster of storms moving northeast in the Kananaskis area, were issued around 3 p.m. 

Heavy rain, strong wind gusts and nickel-sized hail could be on the way, and Environment Canada is warning Albertans to stay indoors.

Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued around 5:30 p.m. between Stand Off on the Blood Reserve and Cardston County. 

"Isolated large hail, up to quarter size, is the main threat with these storms," according to Environment Canada. 

Lethbridge, Taber, Milk River, Medicine Hat, Bow Island and Suffield were also issued severe thunderstorm warnings around 6:45 p.m. Environment Canada said the storm is capable of producing very strong wind gusts, nickel to ping pong ball size hail and heavy rain.

Much of the southern part of the province was put under severe thunderstorm watch, including Calgary, Airdrie and Okotoks.

The thunderstorm warnings were being updated rapidly by Environment Canada. An up-to-date list of weather alerts is available on the agency's website

This is Environment Canada's weather map of Alberta as of 3:15 p.m. Thursday, with red areas under a weather warning, yellow under a weather watch and gray a special statement. (Environment Canada)