EDMONTON — Residents in Alberta’s capital region are cleaning up after a vicious thunderstorm that toppled trees, damaged buildings and knocked out power to thousands of homes when it blasted through the area Saturday night.
Emergency officials said one woman injured her leg when part of a concrete overhang at the front entrance to the CN building in downtown Edmonton came crashing down. Two vehicles were badly damaged by the plummeting cement slab.
Winds that Environment Canada said reached 106 kilometres an hour ripped large branches from tree trunks and threw them about like toothpicks as spectacular lightning zig-zagged across the sky.
One homeowner told a local radio station he saw the high-powered gusts toss a swing set and trampoline through the air.
Another man in north Edmonton said the storm hit him with a triple whammy — he lost his gazebo in the backyard, his fence along the side of his house and a stately green ash tree he had planted out front years ago.
A spokesman for Edmonton’s power provider, Epcor, said crews would be working non-stop to restore electricity.
“I don’t have the exact total, but we think it was about 40 power outages throughout the entire city last night affecting many thousands of people,” Tim LeRiche said.
He didn’t have an estimate of when power would be fully restored.
The day had been sultry. Environment Canada had issued widespread thunderstorm warnings across central Alberta, indicating imminent rain, hail and potentially damaging winds.
The agency also warned such conditions could cause tornadoes. But meteorologist Blair Morrow said there was no indication any twisters hit the city, despite pictures of ominous clouds from amateur photographers.
“We are studying those photographs,” he said Sunday. “We can’t rule out a tornado touching down, but we have no confirmation of that.”
The winds on Saturday developed ahead of the thunderstorm and were strong enough to topple tractor-trailer units, Morrow said.
The storm spat grape-to-toonie-sized hail on some areas as well.