Destructive thunderstorms hit Calgary, Canada


A line of severe thunderstorms produced destructive hail, flooding, and at least one possible tornado to Calgary, Alberta, on Saturday night, June 13, 2020. Many motorists were stranded after roads turned into rivers.

A large weather system moved through Alberta on Saturday, bringing widespread severe thunderstorms to much of the province, according to Environment Canada's weather summary issued Sunday, June 14.

Southern regions were affected by flooding, power outages, and destructive hail, especially Calgary, which received about 60 mm (2.3 inches) of rain in a 24 hour period to Sunday.

The department also noted one possible tornado from southeast Calgary around 01:30 on June 14 (19:30 on June 13).

"At this time, there is insufficient evidence to confirm that any of these tornadoes have touched down," it wrote. "However, Environment Canada meteorologists continue to investigate and will send an update if more information becomes available."

Meanwhile, the city's northeast area was hit by hail around 54 to 61 mm (2.1 to 2.4 inches) in diameter, smashing windows of cars and homes. 

City crews were working Sunday to clear drains and assess damage to property. 

Saad Taleb, a resident in northeast Calgary, said almost every home in his neighborhood had seen some level of damage. "I've been in Calgary 40 years, this is the first time I've seen a storm like this."

"I've never experienced this before," he added. "It's a disaster."

Taleb said his vehicle's front windshield was totally destroyed. The hail was so huge that it popped his car's headlight out.

Kyle Brittain, the Calgary bureau chief for the Weather Network, said the storm represented a "very classic severe weather pattern that set up."

"The atmospheric pattern set up to favor severe weather in Alberta," he said. "When you have that strong wind shear and that strong jet stream and that really good moisture at the surface, you're going to get severe storms. And that's what we had."

Brittain added that such hailstorms seemed to appear in Alberta every one in five or 10 years, adding that he would not rule out 100 million dollars in damages for this event.

"But it's still early in the season. Typically the season doesn't really get going until July," he said. "It seems to be off to an early start this year.

Calgary Fire Department Batt. Chief Alistair Robin said most of the aftermath would be centered on repairs and hail damage claims.

"There's significant damage for sure in the northeast with some houses… the siding on the exposed side of the house completely taken off the house," Robin said.

"There was significant damage in pockets of the city, but the majority of the city escaped the worst of it."

The Calgary Fire Department responded to more than 100 calls in almost three hours. No injuries have been reported.

Featured image credit: @Jeffery11/Twitter


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