Jasper experiences hottest summer on record

·3 min read

Jasper had more heat than usual over the summer.

While it experiences an average of four days of +30 C temperatures each year, Aug. 31 marked the 17th occasion that the mercury rose to that level (as recorded at the Jasper Warden Station) this summer.

“It really was a tale of two summers,” said Kyle Fougère, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

Most of Alberta experienced below-normal temperatures for May and June. The summer started fairly cool and wet throughout June, but by the first week of July, the province started to see a pattern change that soon brought long-lasting heat

That’s when Alberta entered the pressure cooker.

“What we saw for the second half of July and into August was a persistent, large-scale ridge of high pressure covering most of western North America,” Fougère said.

Alberta typically sees this high-pressure ridge come in, bringing descending air with it over the province. That means clear skies while no thunderstorms can form during this period.

“The heat builds day after day,” Fougère said. “Typically, we see that last three to five days, and then you’ll see a low pressure system come through.”

That low-pressure system is when Alberta tends to see severe thunderstorm activity as a lot of that built-up heat and moisture that was trapped under the ridge gets released.

Jasper didn’t see this pattern in 2022. Instead, it saw this persistent large-scale ridge covering most of the western half of the continent.

“Although you’d see the odd little ripple through, it didn’t result in a large-scale change in the weather pattern,” Fougère said.

“We ended up with this persistent high pressure bringing a lot of consistent warm air especially for the month of August.”

A look at the full dataset for Jasper’s summer weather shows that the high heat arrived in one nearly week-long wave starting on July 26. That large starter wave then rippled in periodic shorter two- or three-day bursts of +30 C temperatures over the subsequent weeks.

Furthermore, Sept. 2 and Sept. 3 also came in over that mark, although Fougère said that this isn’t that unusual especially when considering the kind of summer that Jasper has had.

While none of the temperatures even came close to the town’s all-time high temperature of 41.2 C (from June 30, 2021), Jasper did break its record of number of days with +30 C temperatures more than four times over.

“For daily record-high temperatures, there were six days this summer where Jasper did set a new record temperature: only one in July and then five in the month of August,” Fougère said.

July 28 was this summer’s hottest day at 34.9 C while Aug. 10 inched close to that mark at 34.0 C.

ECCC calculates in-depth climate statistics for major sites across the country, including 12 in this province, though not including Jasper. All of those 12 sites were in the top five for their hottest-ever month of August on record. In fact, Grande Prairie and Edmonton recorded their hottest-ever August this year.

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh