Alberta bears brunt of hail damage

The heat of July has spawned numerous hailstorms across the Prairies, with Alberta recording the highest number of storms and Manitoba relatively unscathed.

The Canadian Crop Hail Association said in its July report that the few storms experienced in all three prairie provinces have produced little rain, but crops in southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan are in desperate need of moisture.

Six tornadoes touched down in central and southern Saskatchewan last week with no major damage reported to buildings, the association said.

A July 13 tornado near Bretton, Alta., produced hail that affected some crops.

Across Alberta, the association said there were seven significant hailstorms in July. The most recent, on July 23 in the Wetaskiwin Valley region, let loose golf ball-sized hail.

Thousands of acres in the Camrose, Daysland, Tofield and Vermilion areas were affected July 16 by a hailstorm with large hail and strong winds. A separate storm on that same day damaged crops in an area from Eckville through Sylvan Lake and Red Deer to Delburne.

On July 15, crops around Guy, Donnelly, Falher, McLennan, Girouxville and High Prairie were heavily damaged by hail.

On July 13, the same day as the Bretton tornado, a different storm hailed crops around Athabasca, Thorhild and St. Paul.

Storms July 12 did heavy damage to some crops around Didsbury, Carstairs and Olds, and on July 10 hail struck in and around Bow Island, Coutts, Magrath, Milk River, Warner and Carmangay, the association reported.

It did not provide dates for July hailstorms in Saskatchewan, although some were reported in and around Saskatoon during the month, including Hanley, Outlook and Deslisle.

Various storms, some with hail, affected communities in the southeast, among them Lampman, Weyburn, Estevan, Bienfait and Frobisher.

Hail was also reported for July near Biggar, Dodsland, Kerrobert, Langham and Warman.

The association said Manitoba has had few storms since July 9 and those have created only minor damage.

However, more than 40 hail claims have been made after a July 19 storm in the Deloraine, Virden and Souris regions, and more claims may still be filed.

  • The most expensive hailstorm in Canadian history occurred July 12, 2010, in Calgary. It tallied more than $400 million in damages to homes, vehicles and businesses.
  • That hailstorm also wiped out more than 222,394 acres of crops near Strathmore and Hussar, Alta., and caused crop damage claims totalling $18.5 million.
  • The previous claims record of $340 million was set in 1991, also in Calgary.

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