A storm system swept through the Edmonton area and parts of central Alberta on Friday afternoon, bringing with it strong wind gusts, hail and heavy rain.
Environment Canada had warned there was a risk of large hail and tornadoes in the region throughout the day and into the overnight period.
The weather agency said large hail, up to tennis ball size, would be the main threat with the severe thunderstorms, with a risk of a tornado near Edmonton and to the east of the city in the afternoon and evening hours.
Edmonton was included in the “extreme risk” zone for Friday’s severe weather, Global Edmonton meteorologist Jesse Beyer said.
“Take all warnings and watches seriously. If severe weather is coming your way, be prepared and have a plan to keep your family safe,” Beyer said, adding outdoor events like K-Days and Taste of Edmonton could be affected.
Late Friday afternoon, K-Days tweeted that visitors were being encouraged to “seek shelter” at the Edmonton EXPO Centre or Northlands Park. The rides were shut down because of the weather but shortly after 5:30 p.m., K-Days tweeted its rides would be running again shortly.
McKayla Chretien said she was on a ride at K-Days when the storm hit, leaving her frightened.
“It was raining… there was so much wind in my ears and I couldn’t hear anything and my dad was sending us videos of hail, so it made us more scared because I thought the hail was going to come and hit us,” she said.
The Taste of Edmonton tweeted it was closing for the evening.
A thunderstorm watch was issued at 10:30 a.m. Friday for much of central Alberta and east-central Alberta, including Edmonton. Beyer expected the worst of the weather to appear in the mid-to-late afternoon.
At around 3:30 p.m., severe thunderstorm warnings were issued in parts of Alberta.
At 4:27 p.m., Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Edmonton, St. Albert and Sherwood Park. By 5:19 p.m., that warning was downgraded to a watch.
Watch below: A severe storm rolled through the Edmonton area on Friday afternoon. Jesse Beyer had this update at 6 p.m. on Friday.
“Most areas won’t be affected, but storms that develop will be isolated and damaging,” Beyer said.
A low-pressure system was expected to form just to the south of Edmonton, which would be the focus of thunderstorms, Environment Canada said Friday morning.
Scattered severe thunderstorms were expected to develop early in the afternoon along the northern foothills. These thunderstorms were expected to move northeast throughout the afternoon and evening before weakening overnight.
For the most recent list of areas under weather watches and warnings, click here.
One of the best ways to track locally hazardous driving conditions is from local viewer reports. The #yegtraffic hashtag is often used by Twitter users reporting traffic issues within Edmonton.
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View photos from Friday’s storms in the gallery below:
Watch below: Here’s Mike Sobel’s Friday, July 20, 2018 morning weather forecast and severe weather update for Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding area.
–With files from Phil Heidenreich, Caley Ramsay and Emily Mertz
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