Jessica Kuz, a Red Deer resident living in Kentwood, shows the pea-sized hailstones that fell in her yard on Sunday night. (Contributed photo)

Jessica Kuz, a Red Deer resident living in Kentwood, shows the pea-sized hailstones that fell in her yard on Sunday night. (Contributed photo)

Red Deer power outage, hail damage caused by Sunday’s severe thunderstorm

It could have been worse, says city utilities manager

City of Red Deer workers were dealing with downed power lines due to Sunday night’s storm, as well as a large, blown-over tree that was blocking a road.

Red Deer’s biggest electrical outage was caused by falling tree branches bringing down power lines in part of Riverside Meadows.

A dozen city electric light and power workers were busy removing branches and reconnecting the lines between midnight and 6 a.m. on Monday

But all things considered, the severe thunderstorm with winds gusting to 74 km/hr, left most of the city’s utilities and infrastructure intact: “We did have some power trouble, but it was a lot less than I thought could happen, given the severity of the storm,” said Jim Jorgensen, the utilities manager.

He wanted to remind Red Deerians to stay away from them for their own safety. “Never go near them and call the E, L and P line right away.”

Sunday’s thunderstorm started in the Rocky Mountain Foothills and progressed across central Alberta to the Saskatchewan border. The highest winds were clocked in at more than 85 km/hr the Delburne area.

Hail fell also across Red Deer — ranging from pea-sized to walnut or ping-pong-ball sized in the northern parts of the city, said Justin Shelley, meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada.

While only 2.8 mm of rain fell in the Red Deer, other communities got much more, including Lacombe at 14 mm and Delburne at 19 mm.

Other than the electrical outage that affected from 50 to 100 homes in Riverside Meadows, Jorgensen said there were about four residences with above-ground electrical connections that lost power due to falling branches snapping lines on their properties.

Parks and roads workers spent most of the night removing a large tree that fell from Dawe Centre property across Holt street, blocking traffic access.

Doug Halldorson, the acting parks and public works manager, said 10 to 12 workers had to cut this tree into pieces to remove it from the roadway.

Parks workers will be busy in the coming days.

The impact of storms on the city can be mitigated with regular upgrades of utilities equipment and other infrastructure, said Jorgensen — but a lot of it is circumstantial, depending on where and how trees fall. “You are not always able to predict it.”

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