Severe thunderstorm and possible tornado hit Calgary and Alberta

 Monday, June 15, 2020 


On Saturday evening, a severe thunderstorm accompanied by intense hail and flood struck Calgary and at least one tornado sighting occurred in southeast Alberta. Initially, an emergency alert warning was issued after reports claimed that a tornado had been spotted near Taber, Barnwell and New Dayton. Later, another possible tornado was spotted 30 kilometres south of Brooks, moving north at 60 km per hour. However, all tornado warnings for the region ended at around 9:30 PM at night.

Environment Canada mentioned in a statement that that it was not immediately clear if each tornado was a separate event or happened under the same funnel cloud. It warned that the situation was dangerous and potentially life-threatening and urged people to take shelter upon hearing any roaring sound or witnessing a funnel cloud, swirling and flying debris, or any similar weather threats. Terri Lang, Meteorologist, Environment and Climate Change Canada, reported that a possible tornado could have touched down southeast of Calgary’s city limits around 7 PM in the evening but no reports of damage from any of the possible tornadoes arrived as of mid-evening.

On the other hand, a line of thunderstorms moved towards Calgary and lashed out in the region making severe damages along the way. It was accompanied by intense hail and torrential rainfall that flooded several roads and damaged many houses and cars. As reported by Lang, tennis ball sized hailstones were recorded in the northeast Calgary community of Corner Brook alongside 48.7 millimetres of rain between 7 and 8 PM. Environment Canada informed that meteorologists tracked a cluster of severe thunderstorms stretching from Calgary to High River and moved towards the north. The hailstones made landfall at a possible speed of 80 to 100 km per hour.

According to local reports, the hailstones and thunderstorm inflicted severe damage on homes. Sidings were torn and windows were smashed. Numerous cars were left with broken glasses and windshields. The city also cautioned that multiple roads, mostly northeast Calgary, including 52nd Street and McKnight Boulevard, and Deerfoot Trail between 16th and 32nd Avenue N.E. were severely flooded leaving numerous cars submerged under water. The Calgary fire department took to social media to inform that its boat was rescuing stranded motorists on Deerfoot Trail. The fire department also evacuated a house that was struck by lightning in the southeast part of the region.

The city’s light-rail train, CTrain, was also suspended between Marlborough and Saddletowne stations due to flooding. In addition, multiple bus routes in the northeast were also suspended. Numerous manhole covers were uprooted and several roads remained impassable. Cars and trucks remained stuck in the water and stranded drivers were rescued. The city’s electricity provider Enmax Corp. informed that the thunderstorm caused power outages and nearly 10,000 people in north Calgary was rendered powerless. The Calgary police department informed that crews are working on several flooded roads in the city and that tow truck drivers are working with the police on the cleanup of stuck vehicles. They also asked people to be patient and delay travel if possible. Fortunately, irrespective of the ‘catastrophic’ damages caused by the storm, no casualties of any form have been reported so far. There have been no cases of deaths or injuries.

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