Hail suppression team protects Alberta communities from major damage

CALGARY- Many Calgarians are thanking Mother Nature for sparing them from damaging hail this summer, but it turns out it’s all because of Alberta’s hail suppression team.

The program is funded by private insurance companies, and its sole purpose is to reduce property damage. Using specially modified planes, they fly into storms and spray a chemical into the clouds to reduce the damage on the ground.

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The team was called into action on Thursday night, when a storm battered areas around the foothills, denting cars and smashing windshields.

“We had two aircraft up at the time and were watching it closely and actually did some seeding as individual cells broke from the main one,” explains Terry Krauss, project manager for Weather Modification. “[We] were tracking towards Cochrane and Springbank and Calgary.”

So far this summer, planes have been sent into the air 20 times and seeded 60 hail storms throughout central Alberta.

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“We’ve had several big days this summer where all five of our aircraft have flown and seeded, and on several days it’s been in and around Calgary with some near misses.”

The cloud seeding program used to be funded by Alberta Agriculture to reduce crop damage, but was taken over by private insurers in 1991 after a hail storm hit Calgary.

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