A mix of heat, humidity and long sunny days make July the busiest month of the year for dangerous weather in Alberta.
 
July is also the month most likely to see a tornado touch down in the province. Alberta gets about eight tornadoes a year on average according to Environment Canada data going back to 2005.
 
Some parts of the province are more vulnerable to extreme weather than others, with the Highway 2 corridor between Edmonton and Calgary including the Red Deer area home to the most tornado activity in Alberta.
 
"That's probably the heart of tornado alley in Alberta, then eastwards towards the Saskatchewan border," said Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Kulak.
 
Many of the summer’s strong storms develop in the foothills in western Alberta in the mid to late afternoon before moving eastwards across Highway 2 later in the evening.
 
According to Kulak, current statistics don’t account for tornadoes that go unreported. Environment Canada relies on members of the public to keep them updated about extreme weather sightings.
 
"There's probably a lot more out there that we never hear about," Kulak said.
 
Most of Alberta’s tornadoes fall on the lower end of the five-point Fujita scale, landing at an F-0 or F-1. The Fujita scale ranks tornadoes based mainly on the damage they inflict -- the ones that do touch down in Alberta generally land in open areas and cause minimal damage.
 
Kulak added that tornadoes are perhaps the least of the summer’s weather worries.
 
"The bigger threats though I think to life generally speaking are lightning. And the lightning on average does kill more people across Canada than hail, wind, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes combined. So really tornadoes are just one part of the summer weather threats across the prairies and in Alberta."

 

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