Severe Alberta weather leaves damage, flooding in its wake

A low pressure system swept across central Alberta Thursday, triggering thunderstorms and at least one tornado.

Thursday's storm snapped trees near Breton, hammered Drayton Valley with hail, flooded parts of Slave Lake

Photographer and storm chaser Beth Allan watched dark clouds unfurl over Drayton Valley on Thursday. (Supplied/Beth Allan @adolwyn)

A low pressure system swept across central Alberta Thursday, triggering thunderstorms and at least one tornado.

Environment Canada confirmed a tornado touched down at approximately 5:30 p.m. near Breton, a village 100 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

Teresa Pinyon captured video of the storm near her horse ranch.

She watched from the barn as it churned over her daughter's neighbouring property. At least four funnel-shaped clouds twisted down from the storm around 5:30 p.m., she said.

"I was terrified," Pinyon said. "You never think about that happening so close to home."

This video was taken about eight kilometres northwest of Breton. Caution, strong language:

Wind from the storm ripped trees in half, leaving a swath of damage near Pinyon's property.

"It just snapped them off," she said. 

Some of the trees measured three feet wide, Pinyon added.

"When I seen the mess down there I was just in disbelief," she said. "It was scary."

'It was a beautiful storm'

Fifty kilometres away, in Drayton Valley, hail the size of pudding cups hammered the town. 

Storm chaser Beth Allan watched the clouds unfurl from a perch nearby. She had been tracking the storm all day.

"It was a beautiful storm," Allan said. "But I have to imagine it would be very scary for the general public to see a storm like that because it's visually very oppressive."

Every storm has a personality, she added. 

"This one just said, 'I mean business.' "

Strong winds snapped trees near Breton when a storm rolled past the village Wednesday. (Supplied/Teresa Pinyon)
Pudding-cup-size hail hammered homes near Drayton Valley. (Supplied/@debchamb15)
Heavy rainfall flooded parts of Slave Lake. (Supplied/Kyle Whittle)

Thunderstorms unleashed torrential rain in other parts of the province. 

In Slave Lake, a convoy of seven vacuum trucks struggled to keep up.

"We're just rounding up every vac truck we can find and trying to get ahead of it," said Cody Kelly, the town's senior utility operator.

"She really let loose," he said about the storm.

"We're getting to the danger zone here soon," he added. "We're trying to keep up, getting as many trucks in as we can but we're losing ground."

Kelly said his crew planned to work through the night to prevent local homes from flooding.

While Kelly worked, Kyle Whittle and his friends took advantage of the downpour. They tore down Slave Lake's waterlogged roads in a truck, pulling a wakeboard through the shin-deep flood. 

"I was expecting a serious fail," Whittle wrote in a Facebook message to CBC News. "But only one wipe out and a ton of laughs."

Environment Canada is asking anyone with pictures of the tornado or damage it may have caused to get in touch with its meteorologists.

"Should you have any information regarding this event, or to report severe weather at any time, please call 1-800-239-0484, send an email to"

With files from Ariel Fournier