Extreme weather prompts safety preparedness among Albertans | Canadian

From tornados to golf-ball-sized hail, wildfires to flooding, Alberta has seen some extreme weather the past few weeks and homeowners are left with the cleanup cost.

Teresa Sandberg was working in her backyard in Killam, Alta. Saturday when she and her husband noticed a storm rolling in and began putting their tools away.

“(The sky) went so dark and black, and next thing you know, we’re just being pounded with ice falling from the sky,” she said.

Hail with the diameter of a toonie began hitting the house, the car and Sandberg kept questioning what the damage would be. She said another storm rolled through a few weeks ago, damaging their backyard and totaling the gazebo they had put out.

“We thought we were just going to sit out and listen to the thunder roll through and watch the lightning and the next thing you know, nope, we’re running for life in the house,” she recalled.

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This time, she said, the hail was like “bullets pounding down. I don’t think I’ve experienced that size of hail before.”

Hail roughly the size of a toonie fell from the sky during a wild storm in Killam, Alta. Saturday, July 1, 2023.

Their siding on their house is damaged from the storm with holes from the hail like bullet holes all around the house.

Kimberley Krochak was inside when the hail stared and said it sounded like the house was “coming down.”

“I look outside and see my poor car going to bits and it looked like chicken pox when it was done,” she said. “It was like being in a blizzard.”

She said her friend, Barry Rawluk, was walking his dog when the hail started and had to hide in a bush while it passed, ending up with some cuts and bruises on his head.

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“The force and the power behind mother nature was unbelievable,” Krochak said.

Rawluk was trying to get home with his dog when the hail starting falling from the sky, bouncing off the ground.

“They were getting bigger and harder and all of a sudden I felt a welt in my back, the next second there was one in my head,” he recalled of being pelted with the hail. “When I got hit in the head, I heard bells ring it was so loud.”

Overall, Rawluk considers himself lucky, especially after seeing the damage done to homes and trees. As a lifelong resident of the area, he said he’s never in his 60-plus years seen weather like this.

Click to play video: 'Tornado leaves trail of devastation through central Alberta'

Tornado leaves trail of devastation through central Alberta

Warm weather early in the season is largely at the centre of all these natural weather disasters, explained Paul Silvestro, operational meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

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He said warm weather led to dry conditions, which creates the perfect environment for wildfires, and subsequent air quality issues.

Warm weather also causes more moisture to be trapped in the air, resulting in thunderstorms and a high risk for heavy wind and rains, hail and even tornados.

“Summers in Alberta do bring a wide range of weather that can, of course, lead to heat and the risk of tornados. Getprepared.gc.ca has a bunch of great information (of) what to include in your emergency kit,” he said when asked how Albertans can prepare for extreme weather situations.

“I will also say though, before heading out in the summer really be prepared – be prepared for any type of weather … Really just have in mind what could happen.”

Even campgrounds are creating emergency response plans for the extreme weather to ensure the safety of guests and campers.

Kara Raines, manager of the Devon Lions Campground said she’s had to brush up on multiple parts of the plan already since camping season began a couple of months ago.

She said most people are camping for holiday and don’t have concerns about weather, but if they do, she shares copies of the emergency plans and encourages people to have up-to-date smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in their RVs and teach their kids about what to do if there is an emergency.

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Click to play video: 'Fires, floods and tornadoes: Alberta’s extreme weather'

Fires, floods and tornadoes: Alberta’s extreme weather

— With files from Sarah Reid and Sarah Komadina, Global News

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