What’s An Alberta Clipper?

Alberta Clipper weather events are defined by the National Weather Service as follows:

A storm system during the winter months that originates from the Canadian Province of Alberta (or close by–sometimes the system can originate from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, or even Montana).  The term “clipper” originates from the clipper sailing ships because of their quick speeds.  Thus, an Alberta Clipper is a quick-movingwinter storm system originating from Alberta, Canada.

The name in itself can be confusing, however, it makes sense.  When a storm system evolves over the Canadian Province of Alberta, then dives southeast across the eastern US, it is coined an Alberta Clipper.  Take a look at the image below, put together by the Louisville NWS.

Alberta Clipper Simulation
Alberta Clipper Simulation                                  h/t Louisville NWS

They are usually quick moving weather maker’s, capable of producing sporadic, quick shots of wintry precipitation.  Take a look at this great breakdown from the Louisville NWS for a better understanding of this species of weather events.