Climatology

‘Monsoon season’ could land Edmonton in record books, climatologist says

Edmonton’s “monsoon season” is expected to end soon, but a little more rain could land the city in the record books.

From light drizzles to pelting downpours, rains this month have left Alberta waterlogged, and the capital city has not been spared.

Storms have turned streets into streams. Basements have flooded. Galoshes have become an unexpected staple for commuters.

Albertans have been living through an unusually damp June, and Edmonton has seen the dampest month on record in decades, Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips said Friday.

Wet, wet, wet

“Clearly it has been just wet, wet, wet,” Phillips said. “It’s rained heavily when it’s rained. And it’s rained often.

“When you look back in history, this could be the wettest June.”

Some 150 millimeters of rain have fallen in Edmonton so far this month — more than 2½ times the monthly average, Phillips said.

The city is on track to beat the all-time rainfall record for June, he said.

On Thursday alone, more than 25 millimeters fell, Phillips noted.

“I look at the last 23 days or so, at least 15 have been wet days,” he said. “And that’s quite a bit more than you’d see in the entire month of June.”

Phillips said things were only a “tad wetter” in June of 1998 when 162 millimeters fell. The wettest June ever recorded in the city was in 1965 when 163 millimeters of rain was recorded.

“A good afternoon thunderstorm will give you that record,” Phillips said. “You’re well within that mark for being the wettest June on record.

“I have to emphasize, you still have a week to go. We can always describe well the weather we’ve had but the weather we were going to get is always a bit of a crap shoot.”

Recent rains have left Edmonton and communities across Alberta waterlogged this June. (Dave Howell/CBC)

Due to jet stream conditions that form each spring, June is usually the wettest month, Philips said. But a mass of low air pressure — known as an upper trough — moving across the province is contributing to the “June gloom,” he said.

“It’s just this very persistent feature of the Gulf of Alaska that comes into the province and hangs around and gives you a wet day.”

‘Everything is looking up’

Sun-seekers are likely feeling a bit glum, but Phillips said they should take solace in the dreary weather.

The rain, he said, is “money in the bank” for farmers and wildland firefighters.

After a dry start to spring, the lush season will lay the groundwork for a summer of healthy crops and a reduced wildfire risk, he said.

And for those who refuse to dance in the rain, don’t despair.

Conditions are expected to dry up in the coming week, making way for a warmer than average July and August across Alberta, he said.

“It’s almost like the monsoon season has come to an end,” Phillips said.

“I think psychologically, this month has been a bit of a downer, but I would say everything is looking up.”

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