The storm that triggered the tornado warning rips off roofs and uproots trees in a northern Alberta village

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A village in northwestern Alberta is cleaning up after a severe thunderstorm triggered a tornado warning that swept through Friday night, uprooting trees, flattening crops and ripping roofs off homes.

Farmer Clint Polukoshko was windrowing his field of creeping red fescue just east of Hines Creek when he saw the storm roaring through the area.

“There was a lot of thunder and lightning and the sky was really black up north,” he told Global News from the farming community about 500 kilometers northwest of Edmonton in the Peace region. River.

“Then it just hit with a wall of rain and hail and lots of wind.”

A tornado warning was issued for the Fairview area Friday evening. The storm swept through the Hines Creek area around 9 p.m., according to Environment Canada, before moving southeast toward Fairview.

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Polukoshko said the hail probably lasted 15 minutes and was followed by another 20 minutes of heavy rain. He said his brother was checking crops in other fields when he called with different news.

“He phoned me to say the roof had exploded (the local hotel bar) so I rushed into town to check,” he said.

Storm damage in Hines Creek, Alberta. Friday, July 29, 2022.


Courtesy of Clint Polukoshko


“There were probably 30 very large trees that had been washed away by the roots: some landed on cars, some on houses, blocking the road. I checked everything in town and there were a lot of overturned sheds .

Polukoshko said he saw trampolines on top of buildings, missing shingles, missing roofs on even more properties.

“A guy who works for us, the roof of his mobile home in town had blown off and landed on the neighbor’s house next to him.

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“A lot of damage in town.”

When he arrived at the bar at the Hines Creek Hotel, Fairview RCMP and local volunteer services firefighters were already dealing with the situation.

“The roof had flown off and landed on the nearby park behind the bar, the city park water park. He was sitting above the playground.

Polukoshko estimates that the village is home to around 500 people, but even more live in the surrounding rural area – and it seems almost everyone had the same idea they had: go to town and see what happened.

“And after the storm, there were probably about 1,500 people in town.”

Hail in Hines Creek, Alberta. Friday, July 29, 2022.


Courtesy of Clint Polukoshko


Kyle Fougere, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, told Global News that the weather agency had received reports from the Hines Creek area of ​​ping-pong sized hail, possible heavy flooding in streets, uprooted trees and damage to roofs.

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The weather agency could not confirm whether a tornado touched down, saying this type of damage could have been caused by a tornado or straight-line winds, but will investigate.

Polukoshko took photos of hailstones that appeared to be the size of ping pong balls. He said friends had seen even larger hail the size of golf balls.

It’s not just the town that has been affected – Polukoshko said his crops have also suffered.

“We had a real hailstorm. It probably wiped out a good 80% of our canola crops. »

Polukoshko estimates that 1,600 to 2,000 acres of its canola and another 1,500 acres of wheat have been razed.

“I can’t really say the damage is too bad for the wheat yet, but it won’t be good,” he said, adding that he will have a better idea of ​​the damage once the sun comes up. Saturday.

“You can tell that on canola though. And where the stems are broken, the pods are broken.

“The field was yellow before supper, then after supper it’s all green and pretty flat. It is not a good sign. »

“We could have taken advantage of the humidity – we just didn’t need the hail,” he said ruefully.

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After the storm passed and Polukoshko was done checking the damage in town, he immediately got back to windrowing his fescue, which in Canada is mostly grown in the Peace River region.

It was a sweltering day before the storm hit: the Peace River region broke temperature records on Friday, with a temperature of 34.8°C (the old record of 34.4 set in 1934, according to Environment Canada.)

ATCO Electric said extreme weather conditions were causing power outages in the Fairview area and surrounding areas, including Hines Creek. At midnight, Polukoshko said the power was still out in a large area.

Environment Canada said the large thunderstorm continued to track southeast throughout the evening, was still showing rotation and had the potential to cause damage. The tornado warning ended around midnight, however.

Damaging winds, large hail and locally intense precipitation from the storm were possible, the national weather agency said in its earlier warning.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney spoke to Global News on Saturday about the severe weather and said relief funds were available through the municipality if needed. No request has been made to his knowledge to date.

“We are well below the 10-year average in terms of floods, wildfires and events of that nature,” Kenney said. “The Prairies are always unpredictable weather-wise – we know that in Alberta. And I feel bad for the people who have been affected by this.

Tornado warnings are issued when imminent or ongoing thunderstorms are likely or are producing tornadoes.

If you see one, Environment Canada advises you to go inside to a room on the lowest floor, away from exterior walls and windows, such as a basement, bathroom, cage staircase or an interior closet.

Leave mobile homes, vehicles, tents, trailers, and other temporary or freestanding shelters, and move to a sturdy building if you can. As a last resort, lie down in a low place and protect your head from flying debris, the warning says.

Read more:

Thunderstorm causes weather delay at Big Valley Jamboree

The warning came as the Big Valley Jamboree in central Alberta had to temporarily suspend events Friday night due to a severe thunderstorm.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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