Wind storm blusters through Central Alberta

Wind storm blusters through Central Alberta

The unespected storm caused trees to fall and a blackout in Eckville

Mother Nature kicked off the start of summer with a massive wind storm that swept across the central part of the province.

Wind gusts of upwards of 110 km an hour caused power outages, uprooted trees and damaged property across Central Alberta.

According to Fortis Alberta, 21,000 customers were without power at the height of the storm around 9 p.m on June 20.

The storm hit hardest in areas surrounding Red Deer which include Sylvan Lake, Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House, Blackfalds and Innisfail.

“It was an emergency situation and we had all hands on deck,” said Fortis Alberta communications person Jennifer MacGowan.

Fortis Alberta had 350 power line technicians working through the night to restore power to as many people as possible. By midnight the number of customers still in the dark was reduced to 11,000 and only 5,000 customers were in the dark overnight.

The storm uprooted trees, broke glass and in some cases even tore shingles from rooftops.

In an interview with the Eckville Echo on Wednesday morning, Mayor Hellen Posti said while Eckville definitely was hit by some of the high winds, the damage those winds wrought in the town was limited to some dislocated siding and roof shingles, a number of felled trees and one downed power line that she was aware of.

She was grateful to see that Eckville had been spared much of the wrath of the weather that ravaged Red Deer and the surrounding communities as it moved through Central Alberta.

“I was at the Diabetes Centre in Red Deer, and saw stuff flying by the windows. There were all kinds of big trees that went down there – it was unreal – I even spotted a few spruce trees that were uprooted,” said Posti. “As far as I know, nothing absolutely terrible befell Eckville.”

Posti mentioned there were downed trees on the north side of the health centre’s yard and a number were down around the high school.

The west side of town also had a few trees claimed by the wind storm. Posti said she hadn’t heard any complaints from homeowners in Eckville, and expressed relief no trees had fallen onto any homes.

“I drove around quite a bit to have a look, but it wasn’t as bad as Red Deer.”

While the winds were strong, they didn’t last too long in Eckville, not long enough to put people off their routines in any case. The Eckville Eagles even continued with their home game against Ermineskin after postponing briefly to let the winds die down. Full coverage of the game can be found on Page 8.

Posti noted how difficult it was to exit Red Deer and get back to Eckville, due to the high winds and the chaotic traffic conditions that the lack of power created at intersections that are kept orderly by lights becoming improvised four-way stops

In Red Deer a state of emergency was declared on June 21 when 20 per cent of homes and businesses were still without power. In some areas of the city it was expected it could take up to two days to restore power.

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