Saskatchewan's summer of extreme weather

Each day brings a new set of weather alerts warning of high winds, heavy rain, flash floods, severe thunderstorms, the province has really seen it all.

'It has really been a rockin’ and rollin’ kind of a month,' says climatologist David Phillips

This storm front was photographed by Jessica Leith in early June. (Jessica Leith/Submitted to CBC)

Each day brings a new set of weather alerts warning of high winds, heavy rain, flash floods and severe thunderstorms. The province has really seen it all.

"Hey you're not just the land of winter severe weather; you also get it during the warm season," said Environment and Climate Change Canada's Senior Climatologist David Phillips.

So what's going on?
People in Estevan, Sask., row down a flooded street on July 11, 2016. (CBC)

Phillips said there are a number of factors at play, but the introduction of high humidity has really changed the nature of storms in Saskatchewan over the past couple of years. The storm systems, he said, seem to be lingering.

"What we are seeing this year is that it started on Thursday and didn't stop until Saturday, so the storms are hanging out a little longer."

Crop sweat fuelling some storms 

Phillips said that a number of factors have increased humidity. Much of it is imported from places over the ocean. But he explained, rain begets rain, and then there is crop sweat. Crop sweat happens when plants give off moisture.
People in Outlook, Stewart Valley and other Saskatchewan communities were tweeting out photos of softball-sized hailstones from a storm in July. (Twitter)

Crop sweat, Phillips said has the power to make a garden variety storm quite powerful.

"You've had a lot of thunderstorms a lot of lightning, almost a lexicon of severe weather: tornadoes, rain, hail, strong winds, land spouts, and it has really been a rockin' and rollin' kind of a month."

For the most part though, according to Phillips, those severe storms have been pretty localized.  

"It can be raining in your front yard but not your backyard," he said. "I think this sort of isolated thing has been the case."


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