120 km/h winds, record warmth bring thaw to Edmonton

Record winds and temperatures blanketed central Alberta this morning as Environment Canada issued wind warnings of 100 km/h and higher.

Wind warning in effect as strong gusts cause power outages, transportation issues

Scaffolding at a construction site on Jasper Avenue and 109th Street in downtown Edmonton was upended by record high winds Wednesday. (Rick Bremness/CBC News)

Record winds and temperatures blanketed central Alberta this morning as Environment Canada issued wind warnings of 100 km/h and higher.

Wind speeds up to 70 km/h were been reported in downtown Edmonton, while the international airport recorded wind gusts at 120 km/h, reports CBC meteorologist Stephanie Barsby

The wind snapped a crossing barrier on the city's LRT track at 111th Street and 40th Avenue. (Courtesy: Jennifer Warren)
The winds forced Edmonton Transit to shut down the LRT from Century Park to South Campus, as about 15 crossing arms were damaged and others were blowing too close to power lines. Passengers were taken by bus to LRT stops 

"It was decided that it was no longer safe for operations down there," said John Wollenzin, supervisor of LRT operations.

"So we suspended operations and had Epcor come in and bring extra crews to clean up the mess to get everything safe again." 

The wind also tore roofs and signs off buildings. Iain Scott had his truck damaged by a roof that blew off Skyco Machine Ltd. in south Edmonton. 

"The roof ripped off of Skyco there and it hit a bunch of vehicles and it ended up doing a 360 in the air and it came back and hit my truck and bounced off," he said.

Service was restored by 3 p.m., although trains were running on a reduced schedule.

The previous strongest sustained wind speed for January in downtown Edmonton was 68 km/h in 1959. Wind gusts hit 114 km/h in 1972.

In some rural areas the winds have knocked down power lines and power poles across roadways.

Semi rollover closes highway

Shortly after RCMP issued a wind advisory for travel on the QE II south of Edmonton between Wetaskiwin and Red Deer, a southbound semi-truck rolled near the Millet overpass at about 8 a.m. MT, forcing police to reroute traffic.

A tree landed on a car in south Edmonton during the high winds Wednesday. (Courtesy: Jennifer Warren)

The strong winds contributed to one death about 20 kilometres west of Westlock.

A vehicle was blown into a ditch along Highway 44. The driver got out of the vehicle and was struck and killed by a second vehicle that was blown into the ditch.

While the winds are expected to continue into the afternoon, temperatures will fall from a record 9.2 C, which smashed the old daytime high record of 7.2 C set back in 1965, to near the zero mark.

Barsby said the unusual wind cannot be termed a Chinook, the warm, dry snow-clearing winds that often sweep through southern Alberta.

"These are not down-sloping winds and we are too far away from the mountains," she said. "This system is related. We have a severe pressure gradient and the wind is mixing down warm air aloft."

The winds are pushing east from west and north-central Alberta through most of central Alberta.

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