While life was looking good for growers following the June rains, things took a turn for the worse when the hot weather hit in July and as it continues into August. The storm of July 18 did more damage to some fields than others, with the causes of the damage varying.
Jeffrey Dowling, director of municipal services for Cypress County, explained the county has been focusing attention along Highway 523 and has not officially been out into fields and crops for analysis or evaluation.
“What we’ve seen from just driving by the scene and the sites is, surprisingly, it would appear the crops were able to withstand the force of the wind and the elements from that date (July 18). It appears the crops are still standing up.”
The storm covered vast areas on the west side of Medicine Hat and continued across the river into the Redcliff area.
“We haven’t done any pinpoint accuracy type of evaluations or analysis of where the weather pattern went through. Certainly, at the site where it has officially been declared a tornado, the biggest problem is two-fold.”
The first is debris lying in fields and the second is damaged pivots.
Debris has been scattered throughout crop areas and would need to be removed before any farm machinery can get into the field.
“One of the challenges is the debris that is scattered, and there is plenty of it in amongst the fields. The second thing is some of the irrigation pivots were twisted and pulled down. I noticed some of the irrigation pivots have been repaired or sections of pivot towers have been replaced but other pivots are still down. From a production point of view that is an issue as well,” added Dowling.
Other weather events, such as hail or severe rainstorms, push crops down, affecting the yield and making it difficult to harvest them. Dowling said there are reports of hail damage on the north side of the river in Cypress County but was uncertain of the extent.
Dowling wanted to extend his thoughts to those affected,
“Cypress County is very empathetic to every property, homeowner or landowner that was affected by the storm, whether it was right at the tornado site or in the path of the storm. We recognize they’ve experienced tremendous loss and damage and it will take awhile for them to get back to what they had.”
If anyone experienced damage to crops from hail due to the storm, please contact the News at email@example.com.
SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News