Sask. towns still recovering from devastating weekend weather

·4 min read
A storm in Wapella, Sask., knocked a tree onto a Ford truck that Brooke Hein says was recently rebuilt by her husband and his father. (Submitted by Brooke Hein - image credit)
A storm in Wapella, Sask., knocked a tree onto a Ford truck that Brooke Hein says was recently rebuilt by her husband and his father. (Submitted by Brooke Hein - image credit)

Several areas of southeast Saskatchewan were ravaged by storms that toppled trees and grain towers this weekend, while others were hammered by hail and heat waves.

"It started with some rain, then the rain progressively got heavier and it just went pitch black outside," said Brooke Hein, a resident of Wapella, Sask., located about 190 kilometres east of Regina.

"The rain was like waves hitting our windows and the only time you could see anything outside was when the lightning flashed and you just saw trees bending," she said.

Submitted by Brooke Hein
Submitted by Brooke Hein

When Hein received a tornado warning she didn't believe that it would actually happen. Then she saw the spruce trees in her backyard coming down, so her family rushed to the basement.

The storm brought winds estimated at 110 to 130 km/h and toppled a 60-foot tree in her yard, though Environment and Climate Change Canada hasn't confirmed if there was a tornado in the area. Another tree fell onto the back of an old Ford truck her husband and his father had rebuilt, denting the box.

"When we came out the next day it just looked like a disaster zone," Hein said.

"The entire community was a huge mess, houses were hit, vehicles, most streets had massive trees broke across them."

Hein said people living nearby who weren't hit as hard brought in flats of water for those clearing the debris from the storm, and others brought hot dogs and burgers to feed them.

Only a month before, on Father's Day, storm damage totalled Hein's vehicle. She said the storms this season feel "neverending."

In Grenfell, trailers were toppled and debris was splayed across ditches.

Sharon Gerein/CBC
Sharon Gerein/CBC

Grenfell and Wapella were among a group of towns in southeast Saskatchewan that lost power early Saturday morning, leading to as many as 13,000 costumers without power, according to SaskPower.

The SaskPower outage map shows crews were dispatched at about 1:31 a.m. CST Saturday.

Late Monday morning, the last remaining towns that had been without power for more than 48 hours — Rocanville and Welwyn — regained power.

Trevor Bearance, the emergency co-ordinator for Rocanville, said the power outage was quite dangerous for residents when combined with the heat.

"There are of course many older people with various heart conditions and things as simple as needing to use an oxygen machine pump requires electricity," he said.

"People have been scrambling to find generators."

He said the town is used to a few hours without power, but not a few days. He said he will need to ensure the town is better prepared in the future.

Kyler Beckett, a farm labourer living between Rocanville and Moosomin, had half of the roof of his garage torn off by a storm Friday night.

He said he took cover in the basement, and heard bangs and crashes.

When he came back upstairs and looked out the window he saw white fluff everywhere outside. The storm had spat the blow-in insulation from his garage across the yard.

"The house is taking in water kind of between all the windows that were on the rain side and in the basement," he said.

Tammy Beckett
Tammy Beckett

ECCC issued several tornado warnings across the province, including between Ceylon and Radville, Sask., where a tornado appears to have touched down.

Chris Stammers, an ECCC meteorologist, said it hadn't been confirmed as of Monday morning, but the tornado activity was being investigated.

A storm near Regina shifted into a tornado warning for more than an hour because of a swirling spotted on the radar, but it never touched down.

Other areas in the province — including around Lake Diefenbaker, Radville and Douglas Provincial Park — were also peppered with hail, some as large as golf balls, Stammers said.

"It was a very hot and humid air mass, so pretty primed for serious thunderstorm development," he said.

Elbow, Sask., received the most rainfall, 19 millimetres, combined with 89 km/h wind gusts.

Submitted by Cory Herperger
Submitted by Cory Herperger

Several Saskatchewan regions broke heat records over the weekend.

Val Marie, Sask., reached 39.2 C on Sunday, the hottest temperature across Canada that day and the third hottest in Canada so far this year.

Several other towns broke local records Saturday:

  • Assiniboia area reached 35.8 C (previous record was 34.8 C in 1965).

  • Lucky Lake area reached 36 C (previous record was 33.8 C in 2017).

  • Meadow Lake area reached 29.4 C (previous record was 29.3 C in 1978).

  • Saskatoon area reached 36.7 C (tied record set in 1941).

  • Waskesiu Lake area reached 32 C (previous record was 29 in 1991).

  • Watrous area reached 34.4 C (previous record was 33.3 in 1966).

More records fell Sunday:

  • Assiniboia area reached 37.4 C (previous record was 35.9 C in 2003).

  • Coronach area reached 37.7 C (previous record was  35 C in 1967).

  • Weyburn area reached 35.3 C (previous record was 34.1 C in 2011).

Heat warnings remained in place for parts of the province's northeast Monday morning. There are severe thunderstorm warnings and watches in southwest Saskatchewan.

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