Calgary

Alberta communities clean up after 'nightmare' extreme weather damages homes, topples trees

Neran Persaud, a landowner who lives west of Bergen, Alta., says what happened Thursday still feels unreal — like living through a dream. Or a nightmare.

RCMP say 1 home flattened, 4 others seriously damaged southeast of Sundre, Alta.

Neran Persaud, a landowner who lives west of Bergen, Alta., says Thursday's massive storm felled trees in front of his house, missing the home and the living room by inches. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Neran Persaud, a landowner who lives west of Bergen, Alta., says what happened Thursday still feels unreal — like living through a dream. Or a nightmare.

"It was like being in a war zone. Everything was destroyed," he said. "All the trees are down. My tractor tent is blown away, my horse shelters are blown away. What else can I say?"

Mounties said a tornado flattened one home and seriously damaged four others southeast of Sundre, Alta., as violent weather Thursday brought thunderstorms and tornados to southern Alberta.

Police said no one was seriously hurt, though one person suffered minor injuries.

In an initial summary released by Environment and Climate Change Canada at 11:29 a.m. Friday, the weather agency confirmed that a tornado had touched down near Bergen. The first report of a tornado was received around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Extreme weather in Alberta on Thursday led to severe property damage, with Mounties saying a tornado flattened one home and seriously damaged four others southeast of Sundre. (Kyle Brittain/The Weather Network)

Peak wind gusts reached 104 kilometres per hour, according to Environment Canada, and hail as large as five centimetres was reported in certain areas.

Persaud said his main concern was the safety of his animals as they were the only ones on the property at the time. And despite what happened, he feels like he's the "luckiest man alive."

"Everyone's safe, no one's hurt. The house is still standing," he said. "I don't know how that would happen … somebody's looking out for you. I don't know what you call that."

Thomas Morgan, who also lives in the area, said he noticed a "big old black cloud" on Thursday that built to a massive cloud and led to pouring rain.

"I came out here last night to look at the damage, and, oh boy, it's incredible," Morgan said. "Lots of work for people to do now."

Kyle Brittain of The Weather Network captured this photo of flattened trees in the aftermath of extreme weather on Thursday around the province. (Kyle Brittain/The Weather Network)

Nearby, Rod Geggie said his property wasn't hit — but only a few kilometres away he could see where the storm blew through. 

"It just blew right through and knocked everything down, like matchsticks, knocked everything down. Like I say, we're really lucky," he said.

Kyle Brittain, the Alberta bureau chief for The Weather Network, previously told CBC News that the province is getting into peak tornado season. It tends to run through July.

He said Alberta usually sees about 15 tornadoes a year.

Environment Canada had issued a number of tornado and thunderstorm warnings around central and southern Alberta on Thursday, though most have been called off as of Friday morning. 

Some thunderstorm watches remained in effect in communities like Airdrie, Sundre and Cochrane as of 10:30 a.m. Friday.

With files from Helen Pike, Dominika Lirette, Joel Dryden and Mike Symington

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