Violent thunderstorm hits southeastern Alberta near Medicine Hat

·3 min read
Dark clouds over a parking lot in Medicine Hat, Alta., on Monday afternoon.  (Submitted by Travis Meier - image credit)
Dark clouds over a parking lot in Medicine Hat, Alta., on Monday afternoon. (Submitted by Travis Meier - image credit)

High winds caused damage in southeastern Alberta on Monday, leaving thousands of Medicine Hat residents without power.

As of 8:45 p.m. MT, there were 5,738 homes in Medicine Hat, Redcliff and Cypress County without power, according to a Facebook post from the City of Medicine Hat.

Power had been restored to about 1,700 homes in northeast Crescent Heights, according to the city's website.

In a Facebook post, the city said infrastructure had been damaged in several places.

"We do have quite a bit of extensive damage to our electric distribution transmission system. Current objectives right now is obviously safety, looking at closure of roads, gathering situational awareness and then we'll move on to repair and restoration of those," said Merrick Brown, director of emergency management for the City of Medicine Hat.

Power outages may continue throughout the night, the city stated on its website.

Earlier Monday, Environment Canada warned that southeastern Alberta was likely to see high winds and large hail this afternoon.

A tornado alert was also issued near Medicine Hat, Alta., as Alberta's emergency alert system says a twister touched down around 1:50 p.m. Monday.

It later described the weather event as a "storm with dangerous and damaging winds" that occurred in the vicinity of Highway 523 and Highway 1, causing damage to homes and vehicles.

Submitted by Travis Meier
Submitted by Travis Meier

It also noted a detour was in place along Township Road 122, east to Range Road 71, and south to Highway 3.

Submitted by Dana Marshall
Submitted by Dana Marshall

Terri Lang, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said there had been no confirmation of a tornado. There has been damage as a result of high winds, Lang said.

At about 4:30 p.m., the Alberta Emergency Alert website stated there was no power to the town of Redcliff, which is northwest of Medicine Hat. There was no estimated time of repair.

Redcliff RCMP said there were no reports of injuries or missing persons in Cypress County.

'I was freaking out'

Riesa Hertz, a Cypress County resident, said the storm caused extensive damage to her property.

"I went out on our deck, and as soon as I stepped out, a bunch of rain just comes pouring down with the wind. It all happened within a second," said Hertz.

"Then I come inside and our barbecue flew off the deck, too, and took out some of the siding on it."

Hertz said she and her family were not hurt and were safe indoors. But the entire incident was a scary one.

"I was freaking out. The house was shaking. So I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Some of the windows in the house were open, so doors were slamming."

Submitted by Riesa Hertz
Submitted by Riesa Hertz

Tanya Croft, manager of corporate communications at Fortis Alberta, said the electricity provider sent crews to assess damage in the areas it serves around Medicine Hat.

At about 5:30 p.m., Fortis confirmed it had 15 to 20 poles down that required repairs. The damage was in a concentrated area, Croft said in an email to CBC News.

"We have been able to sectionalize the outage using our distributed automation system … which allows us to isolate the fault and restore the majority of customers."

Fifty-five customers were still without power in the areas it services as of about 7:30 p.m., according to the Fortis website.

Echo Dale Regional Park was hit with "significant damage" and is now closed to the public, according to a Facebook post from the City of Medicine Hat.

"It is anticipated that cleanup of tree branches and debris throughout our parks will begin on Wednesday after a full assessment has been completed," the post said.

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