Alberta Foothills Weather

August 3

It’s been a wild long weekend for southern Alberta. Two weather related deaths, a few million in hail damage, and a lot of new weather watchers watching the skies now.

Saturday was the bad day around here, starting off warm and humid, and ending with a huge 200 mile wide windstorm stretching from Edmonton all the way to Calgary that claimed two lives.
Sunday was the day for hail in the hills.

We were out hanging around Rocky Mountain House Saturday afternoon, waiting for something to roll out of the foothills, watching a few nice cells to the north merge into a line, hoping a solo cell would come out on the tail end, but no luck. Within 1/2 hour a few messy little high based cells formed up with the bowing line to the north and took off east with a blast of wind. We made a beeline for home but could not get ahead of the wind, blasting out of the northwest at 60-90kmh. At best speed, we made it into the yard 3 minutes before the wall of wind hit, then sheets of rain, but no hail. Power went out before it even got here so the weather station was down when the big wind hit, YQF – Red Deer Airport, which is 8 miles ENE of here reported 120kmh with the passage of the line.

At the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, 15,000+ people were out enjoying Canada’s biggest country fest when this beast rolled in with no warning. A wall of wind moving at 80-90kmh slammed into the concert, collapsing the main stage, killiing one and injuring 75 more. Although severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for areas immediately to the west of Camrose, the warning for Camrose itself did not go out until after the storm had hit. Organizers of the event claim there were two people watching the weather intently on the internet, but they had no time to warn the people at the event… anyone watching the weather at that time could see what was coming. We had family there and they tell us there was no warning whatsoever. Music playing then slammo. Not good. Link1Link2Link3
The south end of the line crashed into Calgary around 8pm, causing the second weather fatality of the day when a piece of steel sheet from construction site blew down onto the sidewalk near the Calgary tower, killing a 3 year old girl walking with her family. Her father and 7 year old brother were also hospitalized.

Sunday we were back out sniffing around the Rocky area later in the afternoon, waiting for another batch to move out of the hills. 28C and lots of RH to work with, it looked like something should be able to fire. A nice cell finally went up south of Rocky so we started following it back in to the east, then it did a bit of a split and suddenly we were watching the cell to the north take over and head right at our house. We didn’t quite make it back in time, so the critters were not happy, but it didn’t hail so no contract violation. Heavy rain, lots of rumbling, and then it moved off to the east to show the nicest backside we’ve seen here this year so far. The day was not done.
The next batch that came with the cold front boiled up in the hills west of Edson, putting up 50,000 foot tops in the dark and 15C. These rolled southeast, and over Rocky by about 11pm golfballing the town then moving on south to hammer Sundre with more golfballs, then giving Calgary a very rude 2am wakeup call.
We went out to Caroline this aft to see the carnage, but there was none there. We did find about a two mile swath with some decent chew halfway to Rocky up #22, then found it again on Prairie Creek Road a few miles west, saw lots of golfballs left in the grass, but nothing bigger and no severe stripping like we had here in 2006. I was expecting a wide swath of damage out #11 and #54 as you got farther west, but there was none we could see. We had planned on going down to Sundre for a look, but I thought it would be worse from Caroline to Rocky, so we went that way instead. That appears to have been a missed op, as I came across these photos of some serious damage somewhere around Sundre on twitter after we got home. Not a great way to end the long weekend for those campers.

Our dry curse is over, we gained 36mm yesterday, making 40mm for the month of July, and if the forecast is right, there should be more every day this week. We shall see.

Thunderstorm east of Innisfail,AB - Aug.2, 2009
Dangly bits under tail end charlie - Aug.1, 2009Carvel XSM radar loop - Aug.1, 2009Poplars at their snapping point as the gust front blows past - Aug.1, 2009
Trees down after gust front passage - Aug.1, 2009Strathmore XSM radar loop - Aug.2, 200912 hour old hail south of Rocky Mountain House - Aug.3, 2009
Lightning crawls though the rain west of Red Deer,AB - Aug.3, 2009

16 Responses to “August 3”

  1. 1
    tricia Says:

    Yup Sundre got banged up pretty good. I live here.

  2. 2
    PB Says:

    Did the whole town get strafed Tricia? or was it mostly on one side do you know? Any photos? 🙂
    After seeing Tim Osborne’s shots I would have been there now for a look if it wasn’t such a crummy cold dark day.

  3. 3
    Brandon Says:

    I went west of Sundre from hwy22 and didn’t see anything too bad. The worst spot I seen was east of the James River Bridge Store on hwy587. A pretty bad swath went through there with trees stripped and a house’s siding on an acreage is totally gone. A vans windshield parked off the driveway to that acreage is smashed as well.

  4. 4
    Tammy Says:

    You should have went to Nordegg, we got slammed out there (we were tenting at Upper Shunda Creek Campground)Sunday night. 2 ppl were rushed to Rocky Hospital from falling tree injuries, then the town of Nordegg was evacuated due to a propane leak. What a crazy end to an excellent weekend!!

  5. 5
    PB Says:

    Brandon I was wondering if maybe the worst had missed Sundre to the north and east, from the track we saw west of Caroline. Sounds like it might have? Those crazy damage shots from Tim Osborne were from north of Sundre closer to 587 also.

    Tammy thanks for the report, Yikes I hadn’t heard of that. What an insane pair of beasts those were that came down from Edson.
    Hope everybody is ok.

  6. 6
    AS Says:

    I was on my way back from Jasper on Sunday night. We were about 10 minutes outside of Hinton around 9:33 when we drove directly into the darkness. The hail was only pea sized but we got nailed, visibility was Zero! We drove for about an hour in the depths of that till just before Edson when we could at least see the road again. The storm was definitly moving south west. I was surprised I didn’t hear anything more about this beast of a storm.

  7. 7
    PB Says:

    AS those cells looked absolutely ridiculous on radar when they were west of Edson. I’m surprised you only got peas out of it there, I was expecting to hear reports of volleyballs.

  8. 8
    Barb Jackson Says:

    Terrible swath north of Forest Height golf Course, we know because we were camping in it. At least golf ball size hail, that was about 5 inches deep. there were approximatly 60 trees (large spruce) completley uprooted. In my Dad’s yard his transformer pole was actually turned in the ground! If this wasn’t a tornado, then I don’t know what it was. I have numerous pictures but am unsure how to post them here. If you would like to see them let me know.

  9. 9
    Matt Johnson Says:

    Wow this slow thunderstorm season is sure making up for itself now. Hopefully there will be more action on the way. Now that the wedding and vactions are over I can finally chase again!!!

  10. 10
    Tim Osborne Says:

    If anyone is interested, here’s my account of the event:
    http://tim-osborne.blogspot.com/2009/08/storm.html

  11. 11
    Adele Tuff Says:

    Went out to our cabin about 10 minutes west of Caroline on Tuesday. Was appalled to see the pulverization. The hail put holes in the siding, shredded window screens, stripped paint, flattened brush, sheared ends of tree branches leaving them covering roofs and driveway, and totally demolished any semblance of flowers I had carefully encouraged through the freeze/thaw cycle earlier in the season. Looks like very spotty pockets of all kinds of weather in that area.

  12. 12
    PB Says:

    That is crazy Barb, sounds like there is a lot more damage out there than I thought.
    We are going to do a tour tomorrow morning and see what we missed the first time. You can send photos to pat at boomerphoto dot com, I’ll do up another post on the weekend with as much info as I can find.

    Adele, thanks for the report, would love to see photos if you have any. Sorry to hear about the flowers 🙁

  13. 13
    Dann Cianca Says:

    Great shots Boomer. Looks like you’ve seen some crazy storms. What did you mean about hail ruining your contract?

  14. 14
    PB Says:

    Thanks Dann, have seen some crazy ones from a distance, which is fine with me for rude hailers like that. Just got home from a tour along the path of the nasty squall that passed sw of here Sunday night. Most hail damage I’ve seen from one storm.

    The contract is a verbal agreement between me and the dogs that was hammered out in 2006 after they got cored real good while I was out chasing. Basically says I have to get home before they get hailed on or they get a remote control doggy door to the basement. 🙂

  15. 15
    SR Says:

    There were about 30 of us camping about 14 km north and 5 km east of sundre and it was horrifying. We had three tents toppled by trees, my boyfriend and I got trapped in our tent by hail and wind and all of the pegs on one side of our tent came right out of the ground. Every car out there suffered smashed windshields and severe hail damage. 3 trailers written off. The farmer 2 km down the road said a twister touched down on his farm. Blew out his window and pulled all his pictures and bedding out of the room and right out the window. My own car was written off. We had some hail the size of tennis balls. My drivers side window and mirror were smashed and my windshield was bad. Whatever is was that hit us was strong enough it pulled the center caps clear out of the centers of my rims on my tired and broke all of the brackets.

  16. 16
    Alberta Foothills Weather » Blog Archive » July 28 – World record sized hail in South Dakota Says:

    […] Big Valley Jamboree catastrophe and the brutal hailstorm that tore through Sundre and Carstairs. (Link) (Link) 2006 had the wicked one that mowed through Spruceview, Markerville, our yard and […]

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