TERRY’S TAKE: NOT YOUR TYPICAL ALBERTA CLIPPER
An Alberta Clipper is a storm system that during the winter months originates in the Canadian province of Alberta. The term “clipper” comes from the clipper sailing ships which were known for their fast speeds. Thus, an Alberta Clipper is a quick-moving winter storm originating in Alberta, Canada. Similar storms forming in surrounding provinces are known as Manitoba Maulers or Saskatchewan Screamers.
The Alberta Clipper, or clipper for short, is essentially a low-pressure system that develops on the lee side of the Canadian Rockies (in Alberta), gets caught up in the jet stream and travels southeastward into the upper Midwest, through the Great Lakes and, eventually off the mid-Atlantic coast into the Atlantic Ocean.
A clipper usually brings small amounts of snow (generally 1-4 inches) because of its speed and lack of deep moisture. Along with the quick burst of snow, a clipper generally brings colder temperatures and often times gusty winds.
Since our most recent storm was born in Alberta and had the classic track, it fits the mold of a clipper. However, it was slower moving and was able to ingest more moisture. As a result, it produced greater snows than its counterparts with 6-12″ totals over parts of Iowa and northern Illinois. In other words, it wasn’t typical but it was still a clipper!