Tornado touched down near Ponoka Thursday night
The central Alberta town of Ponoka was cleaning up Friday after a small tornado touched down Thursday night.
A funnel cloud was spotted near Ponoka around 5 p.m., along with a severe thunderstorm with high winds that caused damage to some homes. A damage survey conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada staff determined that a twister did form.
“A preliminary assessment of the damage caused by this storm has led the meteorologists to conclude that an Enhanced Fujita Scale Zero (EF0) tornado with peak winds between 90 and 130 kilometres per hour occurred near Ponoka, Alberta,” said a statement from the national weather agency.
A handful of homes were damaged by the storm. Kevin Walcheske said his sister’s house had the back and the sun room ripped off, the windows smashed out and a trampoline ended up in a tree. He said when the storm came in sounding like a freight train, he and his four-year-old son scurried downstairs.
Fortunately, the tornado didn’t come down at the Ponoka Stampede, where thousands had gathered for the annual event.
“The WPC (World Professional Chuckwagon Association) races are here for the weekend and there’s roughly probably 1,000 RVs camped on site and 6,000 to 8,000 people in the stands,” Rae Croteau Jr. said. “So for a tornado to develop and go away is the best case scenario.”
The tornado warning came after Environment Canada placed the majority of Alberta under various kinds of severe thunderstorm advisories again Thursday. At some points during the day both the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary were under severe thunderstorm warnings.
Some areas saw thunderstorms, large hail, strong winds and heavy rain, as seen in social media posts from people across the province.
A funnel cloud was spotted west of Carstairs, while hail was reported in across central and southern Alberta. East of Calgary, the community of Strathmore saw 30 millimetres of rain in just 15 minutes.
With files from The Canadian Press
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