Summer storm pounds Blackfalds

Blackfalds and areas of north Red Deer were blanketed by smaller-sized, but still damaging, hail as a significant storm rolled through Alberta on Wednesday evening.

Blackfalds and areas of north Red Deer were blanketed by smaller-sized, but still damaging, hail as a significant storm rolled through Alberta on Wednesday evening.

North Red Deer and Blackfalds, as well as areas south of Rimbey and other parts of the province saw rain, thunder and lighting, wind and hail.

Environment Canada meteorologist Bill McMurtry Thursday that said wind gusts reached 70 km/h at the Red Deer Airport, but their satellite data showed it could have been gusting at even greater speeds during the storm.

“As that cold front went through it triggered a few thunderstorms in and around Central and south Central Alberta,” said McMurtry. “There were a few places that reported hail, a lot of nickle- to quarter-sized hail.”

Blackfalds mayor Melodie Stol said there were two spurts of the hail about a half hour apart and overall the storm was much stronger on the west side of the town than the east side.

“The intensity of the storm overwhelmed the system,” said Stol.

“Then you get so much hail and the hail knocks leaves and branches off, which slows down the drain system.

“It cleared up really quickly afterwards.”

She said it was a good test of the city’s newer infrastructure and its ability to handle stormy weather.

Blackfald’s on-call public works guys responded to the situation and went around dealing with problems that arose. One manhole cover did come up, but it was quickly dealt with.

The hail knocked down some tree limbs and even some trees in the Blackfalds area. The howling wind may also have played a role in the tree damage suffered during the storm.

“Once you get nickle-sized hail and if it’s hard, that does damage,” said McMurtry. “That’s denting vehicles, that’s creating problems with outdoor fixtures or furniture. It was a significant hail event as it rolled through.”

The biggest hail reported, as large as a loonie, out of Wednesday’s storm was in Elk Island National Park and along Hwy 16.

McMurtry said there is good news though as there is a ridge of high pressure over the area that should stay for at least a week.

“It will bring mainly sunny skies and not much in the way of precipitation,” said McMurtry. “We’re in for a week of summer-like weather.”

Though, this could also be a concern as he said many parts of Western Canada are starting to dry out.

“The issue now is some areas have seen extended periods of dry conditions and we have seen a large number of forest fires in the Northwest Territories, B.C. and they’re going to see the influence of this ridge.”

This means there could be issues with forest fires and forest fire smoke.

Alberta Health Services issued a precautionary air quality advisory in Central Alberta. The wildfires raging in the Alberta, Northwest Territories and in B.C. could lead to smoky air conditions. People are advised to use caution if the air gets too smoky.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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