Hail as large as golf balls and winds of up to 120 km/h were reported in Central Alberta during a thunderstorm that ripped through the province early Saturday evening.
“I think it was shocking because it came so quickly,” said Megan Durand, of Sylvan Lake. She said hail the size of golf balls ripped holes in her family’s gazebo and broke one of the windshield wipers on her mother’s car, along with a few shingles being damaged on the house. Her father kept some of the hail to file an insurance claim.
Kylie Trombley of Sylvan Lake said she drives a big truck and so it wasn’t damaged by the hail in Sylvan Lake, but some of her friends had some dents and scratches on their vehicles from the golf ball-sized hail stones. Her hanging flower pots were pelted by the hail that came down. Golf ball-sized hail was also reported in Lacombe, according to Environment Canada.
Advocate reader photos from Saturday storm
In Red Deer, Rock’n Red Deer participants had to run to the parking lot to put up windows and convertible tops and to quickly tear down tents in the midst of the storm.
Eric Skagen, of Calgary, went to put up the top on his 1959 Pontiac convertible just after 6 p.m. as the storm was hitting.
“The sky was dark and I just got the top up and I started walking back in and it just hit within seconds,” he said.
Skagen said tents were blowing around on the Westerner Park site and he helped some people get a tent under control before the wind blew it down. He said pea-sized hail came down for about five minutes, but it didn’t damage his car.
“A couple cars had their tops down and they got some water in them,” Skagen said. “I don’t think it was big enough hail to really hurt anything.”
He said the rush of rainwater pooled almost up to people’s knees in a couple spots at the site.
Red Deer Emergency Services were busy taking phone calls on Saturday during and after the storm, mostly for alarms going off in businesses and calls about power lines being down, said Platoon Chief Randy Kidd, with Red Deer Emergency Services. He said there were no injuries reported in Red Deer that were related to the storm.
Gusts of up to 120 km per hour were reported in Red Deer, according to Environment Canada. Stettler experienced winds of 98 km per hour, Edmonton city centre had winds of 72 km per hour and Camrose had winds of 85 km per hour. One person died and at least 75 people were injured at the Big Valley Jamboree after a portion of the main stage collapsed.
Chris Emond, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said precipitation of 11 mm of rain was reported at the Red Deer Airport during the storm, with much of that coming within a very short period of time. He said the highest wind speed was reported in Three Hills, where a gust of up to 141 km per hour was recorded.
The lightning caused power outages in small groupings of houses or businesses throughout the city. At least three transformers were struck by lightning and one power line was cut by it, causing up to 200 people to lose their power, said Ligong Gan, manager of Electric Light and Power with the City of Red Deer. Electric Light and Power staff were called back from vacation to get the power on, with them working from 6 p.m. Saturday to 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
Gan estimated the cost of the damage and labour to be around $20,000. He said he appreciated how patient customers were during the power outage.
People in Penhold were cleaning up on Sunday after the mess the storm left. Tree limbs, branches and twigs littered most streets and many of the yards in the community.
Cory Draper, of Penhold, was in Benalto when the storm hit. He got to see it’s aftermath when he returned home later Saturday night. Half of one tree in his backyard fell over onto his neighbour’s house, but other than knocking a couple of boards off the fence it didn’t cause any major damage. Other trees broke off limbs in front of his house on town property. Draper was busy cutting up the wood on Sunday to clean up his yard and add to his backyard woodpile.
Down the block, Les Moorhead, of Penhold, also had a portion of a tree in his backyard crack and fall over his fence, but it didn’t do any damage. He used the chainsaw to cut it up. “I guess Mother Nature does some self pruning sometimes,” he said.
He said the storm started with wind blowing dirt around and then the rain started pouring down. “It was pretty wild,” he said. “There were sheets of rain like a snowstorm.”