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Wind speeds in Calgary see a slight decrease over past 65 years

Despite Alberta’s windstorm this week, Dr. David Wood said that wind speeds recorded at the Calgary airport have dropped

Crews work on fixing a utility pole at the intersection of Ogden Road and Blackfoot Trail after high winds caused the pole to break and the base and fall into traffic.

Jennifer Friesen/For Metro

Crews work on fixing a utility pole at the intersection of Ogden Road and Blackfoot Trail after high winds caused the pole to break and the base and fall into traffic.

Following a windstorm that whipped through Alberta (taking down trees, power lines and trampolines), one expert says that the storm wasn’t exactly extraordinary.

According to Dr. David Wood, chair of Renewable Energy at the Schulich School of Engineering, data collected at the Calgary International Airport actually shows a slight decrease in average wind speeds over the past 65 years.

“I think that humans are very bad at judging average events,” he chuckled. “We all complain when it rains and say, ‘Boy it’s been a wet summer,’ but often that just means that it happened to rain on the days that you didn’t want it to.”

However, he does add that the province has seen “unusually strong winds” over the past few days.

In a 5 a.m. weather summary posted by Environment Canada on Thursday, wind gusts in Calgary peaked at 89 kilometres per hour, while Edmonton was hit with gusts at 96 km/h and Keoma felt it the worst in the province with gusts at 117 km/h.

Wood has been collecting data on wind speeds with an anemometer mast at Spy Hill in Calgary since 2011. He said the six-year timeline is too narrow to get an accurate understanding of extreme events, but to-date they’ve only measured about half of what is deemed to be “extreme” wind gusts (130 km/h).

“We’re more likely to see events like over the last couple of days because of climate change,” said Wood. “It’s not just the ‘average conditions’ that will be affected by climate change, but the volatility of the weather.”

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