Hailstorm hammers southern Alberta

The hail storm that hit southern Alberta July 5 passed by Glenwood, Alta., about 8:15 p.m. menacing crops and leaving the town of Cardston beaten and dented.  |  Steve Connelly photo

Crops damaged as hail and heavy rain wreaks havoc on the town of Cardston and farms as far south as the U.S. border

An intense storm of rain and hail ranging in size from peas to quarters caused flooding in Cardston, Alta., and destroyed crops as far south as the U.S. border.

“There’s lots of farmers that have lost their crop — hay crop or grain crop — anywhere the hail hit,” said LeNark Duce, public works foreman for the Town of Cardston.

“It’s pretty spotty, but they’re wiped out.”

Although most of the hail was pea sized, “it was just the volume of the hail and the rain that caused the damage through flooding,” he said.

“It was just a crazy amount of flow. It rained so hard in such a short time that our storm system couldn’t keep up.”

The storm struck Cardston about 8:30 p.m., July 5, lasting for 20 minutes to half an hour as the hail formed drifts up to two feet high, he said. It knocked down debris such as leaves and twigs that blocked storm drains, flooding Main Street with water as deep as the bumpers of cars, he added.

Duce estimated up to 10 businesses were flooded, along with several homes. Members of the Cardston County Emergency Services joined town workers and citizens to try to minimize the damage, he said.

“We had lots of people out with loaders… Every street had people out there with shovels and trying to find drains and grates to clean off,” he said.

“And we had the (Cardston RCMP) blocking off the Main Street because we had to shut the vehicles down because as they drove through it, they just made matters worse because they would push water into the businesses.”

In Cardston the storm left hail piled like snow. | Steve Connelly photo

It took until about midnight for the drains to be cleared and the flooding to subside, said Duce, exhaustion in his voice as he spoke this afternoon.

Although he declined to give an estimate of the damage, he added it wasn’t as severe as the storm with hail as large as golf balls that struck Cardston nine years ago on July 26.

“Pretty much every house in 2012 had to get a new roof.”

Last week’s storm destroyed or damaged crops on farms in areas as far east of Cardston and Woolford and as far south as Whiskey Gap and Del Bonita along the U.S. border, said Stephen Bevans, assistant agricultural fieldman with the County of Cardston.

A cold fog from the hail storm that hit Cardston, Alta., formed after the event was over. | Steve Connelly photo

He estimated hail in the area near his farm south of town ranged in size from peas to marbles, with water filling up his rain gauge by two-and-a-half inches. The storm started on the home property of his farm about 9 p.m. and lasted for about 20 minutes, destroying crops of barley and triticale, he said.

A wicked looking shelf slides by Del Bonita, Alta., during the July 5 storm about 9:15 p.m. | Steve Connelly photo

“The crop damage around my area was 100 percent. I don’t know what happened out (northwest) towards Glenwood and all that, but I think they got affected as well.”

Such storms seem to be occurring with greater frequency than in the past, he said.

“It seems like they are more and more nowadays, but they’re scattered.… It wasn’t very big like it was a few years ago (in 2012), but there was a lot of rain in a short amount time.”

The storm tha would damage the Cardston area of Alberta shown forming up over nearby fields. | Steven Connelly photo

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