Tornado touched down southwest of Calgary, says Environment Canada
Funnel clouds spotted, hail as big as golf balls reported in city
A tornado touched down southwest of Calgary on Wednesday, Environment Canada officials confirmed after lifting warnings for the city and surrounding communities.
A line of thunderstorms brought funnel clouds, rain, and hail as large as golf balls to south Calgary as it moved over the city.
Environment Canada issued a warning for Calgary and several other Alberta communities after a tornado was reported 10 kilometres north of Priddis at 12:53 p.m. MT, according to Environment Canada.
"We have a storm spotter who did report a tornado on the ground," said Bill McMurtry, a warning preparedness meteorologist with the agency. "Since that time [we] have had video confirmation. It looks like we had a brief touch down of a tornado for areas to the southwest of the city."
Trees may have been damaged when the tornado touched down, he added. There are also reports of damage on the nearby Tsuu T'ina First Nation.
"It appears at this time that the City of Calgary has had another brush with a major weather event, but we don't believe we sustained any major damage," said Tom Sampson, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.
Storm heads east
Severe thunderstorms continued to threaten communities in eastern Alberta Wednesday afternoon as the bad weather headed into Saskatchewan. Wind gusts as high 154 km/h were measured in Hussar, a village east of Calgary.
All weather warnings and emergency alerts about the storm in Alberta were lifted by 6:30 p.m. MT.
A Calgary man filmed a time-lapse video of the thunderstorm approaching the downtown from his office. Watch the video here.
"I've always wanted to see a tornado and I never have … I was kind of hoping it would turn into one," said Wes Pohl. He did manage to film a funnel cloud. "It was still pretty impressive what the camera did capture."
Confusion over evacuating
The tornado warning may have caused some confusion in Calgary, a city that has only seen eight tornadoes within city limits in four decades.
"We experienced a number of buildings telling their people to evacuate today and [we] very quickly tried to put the clamp on that, to say stay in your building," said Sampson. "You should put as many things between you and the windows as you can in the event of an actual tornado."
It's important that Calgarians keep an the eye on the weather and sign up for Alberta Emergency Alerts, he said.
At Heritage Park Historical Village in southwest Calgary, staff shut down buildings, closed the front gates and moved nearly 2,000 people indoors after spotting a large funnel cloud.
"We had lots of staff working and we got lots of people inside in a very short period of time, so I think it went really well," said Rob Cook, manager of security.
Many people posted photos of the storm and large chunks of hail on Twitter.
Cellphone pic my Sons Ben/Joel got 1pm today Calgary high rise Looking west <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/wx?src=hash">#wx</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/abstorm?src=hash">#abstorm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/teamtanner?src=hash">#teamtanner</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/treetanner">@treetanner</a> <a href="http://t.co/FbDymMFpNQ">pic.twitter.com/FbDymMFpNQ</a>—@dartanner
Very clear funnel cloud. We are blasting to get closer. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/abstorm?src=hash">#abstorm</a> 1258pm <a href="http://t.co/cgguoKoh6z">pic.twitter.com/cgguoKoh6z</a>—@adolwyn
This is some of the hail that's coming down in Canyon Meadows <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyc?src=hash">#yyc</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/abstorm?src=hash">#abstorm</a> <a href="http://t.co/slW0bqWGHx">pic.twitter.com/slW0bqWGHx</a>—@crushgirljos
Not liking the looks of this... <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/twister?src=hash">#twister</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCCalgary">@CBCCalgary</a> <a href="http://t.co/t6C0zWGZbC">pic.twitter.com/t6C0zWGZbC</a>—@KatieDickinson
Taken from Crowchild overpass and 50th SW looking towards the ATCO Park. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/yycweather?src=hash">#yycweather</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCCalgary">@CBCCalgary</a> <a href="http://t.co/XFlV7bstER">pic.twitter.com/XFlV7bstER</a>—@Vicmoyyc