The climatology of the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program study area

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  • In many respects, the climate of northeastern Alberta resembles that of the central portions of the province. It is generally somewhat cooler, especially In winter, and precipitation is slightly less. The area has a very definite continental climate and its distance from the Pacific Ocean and the mountains result in the almost complete absence of winter chinooks which are often thought of as an integral part of Alberta climate. Winters are cold with relatively little snow. Heavy snowfalls such as are common in the mountains and foothills are rare. Intense cold outbreaks can last from several days to a few weeks. Summers are relatively short and cool, although the occasional warm spell can cause temperatures to rise above 30°C. About two-thirds of the precipitation falls in the summer months with several major rainstorms generally accounting for much of the seasonal rain. Northeastern Alberta cannot be considered windy. High winds do occur but they are infrequent and rarely last longer than 12 to 24 hours. Although the topography does not have a major impact on the weather patterns, certain terrain features are significant in establishing windflow patterns that must be understood and considered In assessing the impact of climate on the development of the Athabasca Oil Sands.

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