CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - You hear the phrase frequently during the winter, but what is an Alberta Clipper?
Sometimes it's called a Canadian Clipper for the obvious reason that Alberta is a Canadian province that shares a border with a portion of Montana.
An Alberta Clipper is a fast-moving low pressure area which generally affects the central provinces of Canada and parts of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions of the United States, precipitating a sudden temperature drop and sharp winds.
They move from west to east.
Alberta Clippers usually only cause light snow because of how quickly they move but they cause bitterly cold conditions. Around 1 to 3 inches is typical for an Alberta Clipper snow storm.
When lake effect snow is factored in, snow accumulation can double with a clipper swinging through the Great Lakes regions.
If conditions are favorable, however, some clippers can cause blasts of quick snow accumulation.
Most clippers occur between December and February, but can also occur occasionally in November. This is our most common winter system.
The term "clipper" originates from the clipper sail ships because of their quick speeds. They were ships built in the 1840s and 1850s with three masts that were created to transport small loads of cargo.
The clipper ships could travel up to 400 miles a day, which was a great distance at the time.