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Calgary begins cleanup after ‘devastating’ storm causes major damage, flooding

WATCH: Global News' June 14 coverage of the previous night's storm.

Thousands of Calgarians are cleaning up after a thunderstorm on Saturday evening that brought torrential rain and damaging hail, causing flash flooding.

Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Calgary on Saturday at 6:37 p.m. It was later cancelled just before 8 p.m.

READ MORE: Severe flooding, damage in Calgary after thunderstorm Saturday

According to Global Calgary meteorologist Tiffany Lizée, the Calgary area saw 48.7 millimetres of rain in a one-hour period during the storm.

“The heavy rainfall within a short period of time combined with a burst of significant hail quickly overwhelmed storm drains in northeast Calgary and caused flash flooding,” Lizée said.

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“Cloud seeding planes were in the air around Calgary yesterday, but these thunderstorms were so intense that updrafts were strong enough to produce tennis-[ball]-sized hail that unfortunately caused significant property damage.

“Calgary had over half our monthly rainfall for June fall within a few hours and most of that was between 7 and 8 p.m.”

The NAVCAN weather station at the Calgary International Airport recorded 54 mm of rain Saturday night, while 94 mm is usually what the weather station records for the entire month of June.

According to Environment Canada, hail as big as 5.4 centimetres and 6.1 centimetres was recorded in northeast Calgary, approximately the size of a tennis ball, while other parts of the city saw hail measuring 2.1 to 2.4 centimetres – the size of a nickel or quarter.

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Tornado warnings were issued in southern Alberta after 7 p.m. and were in place for over 90 minutes.

Environment Canada is investigating three possible tornadoes, but as of Monday morning, none have been confirmed.

The locations of the three reported tornados are as follows:

  • One Spotted from SE Calgary around 7 p.m. MDT
  • One near McNab, Alta., at around 7:30 p.m. MDT
  • One in the Chin Lakes/Barnwell/Taber area at around 8 p.m. MDT

Funnel clouds differ from tornadoes in that they do not connect with the ground or gather debris, Environment Canada said.

On Sunday morning, city crews and police were out attempting to get roads passable again.

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Calgary police officer describes Saturday as ‘a long night’

Insp. Sarah Roe​ said police worked with other emergency services all night into Sunday to get stranded vehicles out of pooling water.

“Probably the hardest-hit would be up in the northeast area of the city,” she said.

“There’s been a great impact due to hail but also a lot of vehicles were submerged.”

Hail damage to a home in Saddleridge in northeast Calgary.
Hail damage to a home in Saddleridge in northeast Calgary. Global News

Officers had to prioritize resources: regular calls for service in addition to storm calls.

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When a second storm cell rolled in around 9 p.m., police were still dealing with 7 p.m. calls from the first storm, Roe said.

“I don’t think we understood the extent of the size of hail we were going to get,” she said.

Roe said the fire department evacuated a house struck by lightning in the southeast.

“It was a long night, a very eventful night for everybody involved. Some of our officers’ vehicles were impacted as well,” she said.

Roe explained that the force doesn’t want to see people retrieving submerged cars.

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“Property is always replaceable but we need to make sure that everybody is taking into consideration safety first,” she said.

Police said there were no serious injuries reported due to the storm.

‘A devastating storm’: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said on Twitter Sunday that “last night was a devastating storm. City crews are working hard to clear the damage and blockages.”

The city said that people should avoid the Nose Creek pathway and area as it has partially flooded due to high creek levels.

City officials asked people to help. In a tweet, the city said if a street drain is clogged and residents believe they can clear it themselves, they are asked to do so.

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However, any damage to public property or unsafe situations should be reported to 311.

Flooded streets in northeast Calgary on Sunday, June 14, 2020.
Flooded streets in northeast Calgary on Sunday, June 14, 2020. Courtesy: Christian Ravary

– With files from Tiffany Lizée and Jodi Hughes