The Weather with Connor

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featuring Connor Mockett

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another week of The Weather with Connor. This week I’ll be talking about the cross Canada adventures of Zoé and I. Although a less active trip storm wise, there have been a lot of good moments.

We left home on June 24th, and right off the bat did a LONG 15½ hour day from Winchester to Nipigon, which is about an hour away from Thunder Bay. The drive was good and smooth without issues, other than me rolling into the gas station on fumes with 0km left when I got to Nipigon. It was a calculated risk!

Day 2 was a bit shorter than anticipated. I wanted to go from Nipigon to Grenfell, Saskatchewan, which would’ve been about 14 hours, but that Grenfell hotel was sold out, so I settled for an 11½ hour day and stayed in Moosomin instead, which worked out great for Day 3 of the trip.

On Day 3, we left the Moosomin hotel right at checkout time, 11:00am CST. We then sat around in the town of Moosomin for a few hours and waited for the day’s severe thunderstorms. We ended up chasing around town for a couple hours in the late afternoon and got some great lightning photos. After the chase, we drove 6 hours to Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Day 4 was a pretty simple and easy day. We left the hotel at the latest checkout time again, which is always 11:00am. That afternoon, we went to explore the Badlands of Alberta, which is one of the most unique landscapes you’ll ever see. We also went to the abandoned Atlas Coal Mine and explored the old facility, the abandoned town of Wayne, and went to Drumheller. After that, we went to our hotel in Airdrie, Alberta, and had a nice dinner at The Canadian Brewhouse.

Day 5 was a rest day, as we’d done a ton of driving and needed a break from the road. We relaxed all day, went to the hotel pool, and utilized the incredible waterslide at our Ramada hotel.

Day 6 was one of the best days of the trip, as it always is when you go into the mountains. We drove on HWY 1A, which, if you’ve ever been to this part of Canada, you know is way more beautiful than the regular HWY 1. We stopped many times on that stretch for photos while entering the mountains, and then went into Canmore, one of the most unique towns I’ve ever seen. After that, we drove up the Highway to Lake Louise, which is always an indescribable experience when you see it. It took us a long time to get a parking spot, but we did eventually get in. After Lake Louise, considering we were so close to the BC border, we decided to go into BC a little bit to see the “Welcome to BC” sign, and took some photos of some trains passing by near Field, BC. After all of that, it was time to go all the way back down the mountains, as storms were forming along the Foothills. We intercepted a short-lived, although pretty, storm near Water Valley, Alberta, and tried to see a couple more near Sundre, but those storms failed. We then went all the way back to our hotel in Canmore, and that concluded our day.

Day 7 was the first real chase day. But first, we left our Canmore hotel and went back into the mountains a little bit, into the Town of Banff, and up an incredible roadway up a mountain that overlooked the Town of Banff with the mountains behind it, arguably the most beautiful view we saw during the trip. We went back down out of the mountains around 1:00pm that afternoon, and went towards our target area of Cochrane, Alberta. We waited at my favourite gas station, a really nice Shell with a fantastic store inside, and a great grassy area to play catch while waiting for storms. We waited for about an hour, and then drove north towards a developing storm near Sundre, which is about 45 minutes north of Cochrane. We followed that storm for a while, but it struggled as it came off the mountains, and never amounted to anything. We left that storm for a different storm near Crossfield, Alberta, which ended up being an incredibly beautiful flying saucer of a supercell. One of the most favourite storms I’ve ever seen. We also drove through the hail core numerous times just for fun, and ended up finding some toonie sized hail. Those pelted the car pretty well, and boy, did I love it. After that storm died, we went for supper with a couple of chasing friends, and then stayed the night in Red Deer in anticipation of the next day being a huge day for storms.

On Day 8, I woke up and looked at the weather models. There was a good chance that I was going to see my first tornado that day, but that didn’t happen. I chose the wrong target area. We did see a few beautiful storms, but all of them lacked the rotation to really put down a tornado, and then the last storm we saw near Lloydminster was a gorgeous shelf cloud traversing across the Alberta prairie. I was not there for the violent tornado at Didsbury, Alberta, which I terribly regret. That tornado, however, was the second strongest tornado in Alberta history, nearly matching the Edmonton F4 tornado of 1987. That Didsbury tornado completely destroyed homes, scoured the ground, and de-barked trees. It was also rated EF4. After my disappointment of choosing the wrong target, we went and stayed in a city we’ve never seen before, which was Saskatoon. We stayed there for Day 9 as well for a rest day to cope with my disappointment.

That was the first 9 days of my 18 day trip! The final 9 days will be in my next column in a couple of weeks. Thanks for reading!

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