WATCH: It’s been a violent week of weather for Albertans. Golf-ball sized hail and tornadoes have sent people running for cover. The storms have knocked out power, toppled trees and flooded roads. A family of farmers barely escaped a twister – and they caught the whole thing on video. Jayme Doll reports.
CALGARY – As Calgarians wonder how they will cover the cost of the staggering damage inflicted by this week’s thunderstorms, one scientist is warning that even more severe weather is in store in the coming years.
Hydrologist John Pomeroy has researched water resources and climate change.
“Around the world, it has been observed that extreme weather is increasing in frequency,” he said.
Southern Alberta’s geographical location – in the foothills close to the mountains – means hail and thunderstorms aren’t uncommon in the summer. What’s increasing, according to Pomeroy, is their frequency, spread and severity.
With that in mind, Canadians can expect to pay even more for their already costly insurance.
“To be prudent, we have to be prepared that it might become worse,” Pomeroy said. “We already have the highest insurance payouts in Canada in Alberta because of severe weather.”
According to a 2012 report by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, claims for weather-inflicted damage totaled roughly $1.6 billion in 2011 in Alberta alone – and that figure predates the 2013 flood, last September’s freak snowstorm and the storms this summer.
WATCH: From dented cars to battered homes, repairing the damage from storms this week will be pricey, and it’s only a matter of time until the next wallop. Heather Yourex takes a look at how you can prepare for the next storm.
Premier Rachel Notley has already said the provincial government won’t help cover the cost of “Snowtember,” prompting many to wonder what kind of disaster relief funding – if any – Calgary can expect following widespread weather damage in the future.
Other sources of assistance have emerged following this week’s storms; a group of volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross provided food, clothing and accommodation to nine residents of a northeast condo that had its roof ripped off on Aug. 4.
With the increasing risk that more homes could sustain similar weather damage, the City of Calgary offers instructions for how to pack a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit that includes bottled water, food and first aid supplies. The city advises that every Calgarian family keep such a kit on hand in case of weather-related disasters.
Rachel Notley, for her part, said funding would be assessed on a “case by case basis” and focused on addressing the NDP’s climate change plan.
“If we don’t start to do our part with respect to those issues, we’re going to have greater costs down the road,” she said.
John Pomeroy also linked the increasing frequency of extreme weather events to climate change. Rising concentrations of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and water vapour lead to higher atmospheric temperatures.
“When it’s warmer, it will hold more water vapour,” Pomeroy explained. “That water vapour gives it lots of energy, so there’s more water in the atmosphere to form severe storms and floods.”
Watch below: Rachel Notley says provincial government will consider storm assistance money “on a case-by-case basis”
With files from Heather Yourex
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