Alberta Foothills Weather

More on the July 30 tornado west of Sundre

It’s a good thing this tornado didn’t decide to touch down in a populated area, it was packing some punch!

A few days ago, Bob Henderson left a comment on the July 30 post:
“I was out west on Sunday August 7/10 taking pictures of wild horses. As I traveled the back roads I came into a valley that comes off the South James River. Here the road was blocked by fallen trees. When I got higher up you could see a complete path of destruction that was 1/2 mile wide by 2 miles long, where there was not a tree left standing. Trees with trunks over 2′ in diameter were broken off like twigs. In this twisted and strewn mess there was not a tree left standing. There are two small herds of wild horses in that valley and I do hope that they and all the other creatures lived through this.”

I made contact with Bob to discuss, and he sent back two photos of some pretty amazing damage, it looks like there were some large trees in there. Thanks again Bob for the photos and the tip.

This really got me wondering again about this “James River Bridge” tornado that was supposed to have happened 10 km west of Sundre in a open field near a nudist colony.
The original tornado warning stated a tornado was spotted 25km WNW of Sundre near James River Bridge.
Bob’s tree fall is almost exactly 25km WNW of Sundre, but James River Bridge in the sense of a location, is 10km due north of Sundre. There is a bridge across the James River near the tree fall, maybe that’s what they were referring to? Very confusing anyway.
Whilst out trolling last week for storms down there I stopped in at the James River Bridge Store for a soda and asked if they had seen the tornado. They hadn’t but said a photo of it was taken 4 miles south looking northeast, but nobody had seen it touch ground or knew where it did.

After seeing Bob’s photos I got thinking about the only photos I have seen of a tornado that day, taken by Jae Robbins, a spotter for GlobalTV’s Ground Force in the Edmonton zone. I looked her up and after a nice chat about the day, everything became much more clear.
The photos she and her daughter Kayleah took were from near Bearberry, looking right at Bob’s tree fall area. Jae said the structure was fantastic, there was a tube for a short while, and she could see trees flying through the air, from 10km away. That tells us there was some serious torque involved.
The photos tell the story, it’s a classic supercell tornado! Thanks again Jae and Kayleah for the photos, and for clearing things up.

We are going to head out for a look on the weekend, if any tornado damage specialists out there have any tips on what to look for in the name of science, let me know.

©Kayleah Robbins - Tornado southwest of Bearberry, Alberta - July 30, 2010©Jae Robbins - Tornado southwest of Bearberry, Alberta - July 30, 2010
©Bob Henderson - Massive tree damage in the south James River area, Alberta - August 7, 2010Strathmore radar map overlay from 3:10pm, July 30, 2010©Bob Henderson - Large area of tree damage in the south James River area, Alberta - August 7, 2010
©Jae Robbins - Tornado southwest of Bearberry, Alberta - July 30, 2010©Jae Robbins - Tornado southwest of Bearberry, Alberta - July 30, 2010©Jae Robbins - Tornado southwest of Bearberry, Alberta - July 30, 2010

4 Responses to “More on the July 30 tornado west of Sundre”

  1. 1
    Mike.W Says:

    Excellent research and post Pat! that is some truly insane damage. And some people say tornadoes don’t happen in the foothills…think again. Thanks for working hard to get this info!

  2. 2
    Dann Cianca Says:

    Pat, if you haven’t already, you may want to post this on Storm Track. I may post this on another bulletin board that I frequent and maybe someone can offer you some damage survey techniques.

  3. 3
    Brandon Says:

    I’m pretty certain that home in the storm photos in just off the highway before you go down a big hill into the valley. The view is great, and you can see that from the photos. The structure looks very similar to the July 29/2007 Alsike storm. Amazing tree damage this thing caused, and I wonder why Environment Canada hasn’t investigated this. Maybe they have and I just haven’t heard. In my opinion this could be up to f-2 damage judging from those trees that are snapped. Very cool write up Pat, thanks for taking the time to investigate! It’s too bad UNSTABLE wasn’t happening this summer…

  4. 4
    anthony Says:

    i too echo my congrats on your investigative work!! Incredible damage there. I thought chances of that kind of tornado that far back into the hills was just about was virtually nil. So much for my thoughts.

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