Violent storms strike Prairies

Hail, tornadoes, rain | Hail damage particularly bad near Irricana, Alta.

The great white combine lived up to its name in southern Alberta last weekend, dumping so much hail that some of it still lay on the ground two days later.

An area northeast of Calgary appeared hardest hit Saturday. The day before, the Taber area also saw hail pile up and create a muddy, melting mess.

Jacob S. Hofer, of the Tschetter Colony near Irricana, said the colony was already contending with about 430 millimetres of rain this year. It lost 3,000 acres of wheat, canola and a small field of corn. The remaining 2,000 acres were also damaged but might recover.

“In 60 years I’ve never seen something like that in this area,” he said July 8.

Hofer said the colony’s land was on the edge of the hailstorm and areas to the north seemed worse.

“There must have been at least a foot of it,” he said.

Driving by on Monday, he could still see hail on the ground.

The hail wasn’t large but there was just so much of it, he said, and it cut a large path. Hofer estimated that the area hit was up to five kilometres wide and 40 kilometres long.

“Some areas had to get the snow plow out to clear the roads,” he laughed.

Throughout the Prairies the weekend weather caused problems.

At least two tornadoes were confirmed near the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border, and warning preparedness meteorologist John Paul Cragg said there could be more once all the photographs and video from people have been assessed.

The two confirmed were between Wroxton and Kamsack, Sask., along Highway 8, and 10 kilometres south of Roblin, Man., near Highway 83.

That storm system dumped heavy rain throughout the region.

The village of Rhein and surrounding Rural Municipality of Wallace were hit with 200 mm of rain in three hours, said reeve Garry Liebrecht.

As well, the village was struck by what Cragg said was likely a straight-line wind and probably not a tornado.

“The tree damage seemed pretty widespread,” Cragg said.

Liebrecht said outbuildings, trees and grain bins suffered the worst. The RM is now dealing with road and culvert washouts.

In Manitoba, the RM of Mossey River north of Dauphin got 125 mm of rain in two hours, leading to evacuations and flood damage.

Until the weekend, the Canadian Crop Hail Association reported that claim activity had been light.

Several June storms resulted in claims throughout the southwest and in the east-central areas of Sask-atchewan. Cragg said weekend reports indicated nickel- to golf-ball-size hail in the Yorkton area July 6 and the Val Marie area July 7.

In Alberta, the June 19 storm that caused the severe floods also affected significant acres of special crops, the CCHA said. Hail as big as golf balls was reported July 6 at Nier.

Manitoba reported minimal damage throughout June, with average hail claims lower than the same time last year.

The Shoal Lake area saw nickel-sized hail July 6.

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