Home LATEST NEWS Researchers want to better understand the phenomenon of hailstorms in Alberta

Researchers want to better understand the phenomenon of hailstorms in Alberta


The research project will last five years and will cover the south and center of the province commonly known as Hailstorm Alley, to designate the region where hailstorms occur most frequently and where they have the greatest impact on movable and immovable property.

The Alberta metropolis of Calgary faced the costliest hailstorm in Canadian history in 2020, with an estimated $1.2 billion in insured damage.

According to Rob de Pruis, National Director of Consumer and Industry Relations at Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), approximately 76% of hail claims in Canada over the past decade originated in Alberta. .

In this regard, Alberta’s national share has risen to 84% over the past thirty years, hence the choice to locate the Northern Hail research project in the province, explains its director general, Julian Brimelow.

This is the region where a host of important factors come together to create ideal conditions for hailstorms. The mountains certainly play a part in this. »

A quote from Julian Brimelow

The general manager of Northern Hail Project also mentions humidity as a possible factor causing hailstorms.

We have moisture coming from crops and pulling along the foothillshe said. This can create a phenomenon known as the dry line which can be a focal point for the onset of storms.

Better predict the onset of storms

Northern Hail Project kicks off this summer with the installation of equipment along the foothills to monitor conditions and track hailstorms as they develop.

The last time we did active hail research in Canada was in the early 1980s. We now have much better technology at our disposal than we had back then. So we want to learn [davantage sur les tempêtes de grêle]underlines Julian Brimelow.

In addition to analyzing the hailstone samples collected in the laboratory, the researchers will make three-dimensional copies of them for testing to measure their impact potential. No one has really measured the full speed of natural hail beyond [de grêlons] about three centimeters. So we were hoping to close that gapsays Julian Brimelow.

The team also plans to study atmospheric data. The main objective is to be able to better predict hailstorms and thus help the population to prepare for them without too much anxiety.

The June 13, 2020 Calgary hailstorm was the most devastating in Alberta and Canadian history. (Archives)

Photo: Ali Cantor-Proulx/Tamse Deguzman

Increase in insurance costs

According to Julian Brimelow, there is still not enough data on the long-term trends of hailstorms. Figures from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, however, seem to indicate an intensification of the phenomenon. They show that the average hail damage cost in Canada has increased from $693 million in 2019 to $872 million in 2021.

The national director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Rob de Pruis, therefore recommends that residents of Calgary ensure that they are covered by their insurance policy.

be ready […] and make sure you and your family are safe and do what you can to protect your propertyhe advises.

In the meantime, the team of Northern Hail Project asks for the public’s cooperation when he witnesses the onset of a hailstorm. He is thus invited to take a picture of a hailstone, preferably with a $1 or $2 coin to be able to compare the size, and to note the date and the place where the fall of hail. The images thus taken can be sent by Twitter with the hashtag #ABstorm.

With information from Taylor Simmons

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