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The culprit for this month's downpour in southern Alberta, according to Environment Canada, is a weather system that originated in the United States and moved north into Alberta.

Instead of moving west to east, the typical direction, the weather system moved east to west and picked up more moisture before doubling back in an easterly direction.

The effect was to dump larger than normal amounts of rain in southern Alberta.

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"This year might be categorized as once in a lifetime," said Mark Melsness, a meteorologist with Environment Canada's Prairie region in Winnipeg.

But he added the explanation lies more with the "day-to-day variability of the weather," rather than climate change tied to global warming.

"Every year has its own weather patterns," he said. "The jet stream sets up in certain areas one year and in other areas in other years."

Environment Canada said Calgary is only 6.4 millimetres away from breaking the record for rain in June, which stands at 224 mm in June of 1902. Rainfall in the past two days is more than double the average monthly June precipitation of 78.9 mm.

However, the record for monthly rainfall in Calgary is 245.4 mm in July of 1927.

"People should not start building arks," said David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada. "It may look biblical, but it's not."

Indeed, the flooding recorded across southern Alberta this month comes in stark contrast to the prolonged dry spell suffered for the same region in the past five years.

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"It is either feast or famine," added Mr. Phillips, noting that June is typically the wettest month of the year for Albertans.

What is unusual this year, according to Mr. Phillips, is that the weather system that caused heavy rains in early June in southern Alberta stuck around rather than moving on quickly.

"Typically you don't get a weather system [in Canada]that stands around and clobbers you like in other parts of the world," he said. "In this situation, in early June [in Alberta] it stalled like a bully on a playground and you couldn't kick it out."

Mr. Phillips said that the wet conditions could have been worse if the winter snow had not melted earlier than usual, in March and April, instead of May and June.

Still, he pointed out that rainfall is a relief to southern Alberta farmers who have suffered for years from too little precipitation for crops and grazing cattle.

"In some ways it [the heavy rain]is a curse now but may be a blessing for farmers," he says.

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According to Environment Canada, Alberta historically has suffered from a number of severe weather conditions in the summer months.

In 2004, flash floods and hail in Edmonton caused millions of dollars of damage to the city's West Edmonton Mall after 30 mm of rain fell in a few hours.

In July of 2000, a tornado ripped through a campground in Pine Lake, killing 12 people and injuring 140 others.

In June of 1997, a torrential downpour of almost 175 mm flooded roads and washed out crops in Halkirk, Alta. The hour-long storm was more than half the area's annual average, according to Environment Canada.

For Albertans tired of drenching rain, Environment Canada's summer forecast is for weather that is warmer and drier than normal.

But Mr. Phillips cautioned "that does not rule out one-day wonders" of rain or other severe weather conditions.

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