Calgary picks up the pieces after massive storm hits city with heavy hail damage, flooding
'I've never experienced this before. It's a disaster'
Calgarians are picking up the pieces after a massive storm brought tennis ball-sized hail and flooding to the city Saturday night.
Calgary police say the most damage was felt in the northeast area of the city. Some major roadways are still shut down, but most have been cleared and re-opened.
Two firefighters were trying to keep water draining on Redstone Street. One told me he's spoken to residents who are upset, emotional -- this comes at such a difficult time for many, he said <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyc?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#yyc</a> <a href="https://t.co/jS4W6j3tJY">pic.twitter.com/jS4W6j3tJY</a>—@helenipike
A number of community residential roads have also been impacted. Cars left abandoned on major roadways will be towed throughout the day.
"Hopefully, as long as the rain holds off today, the system will catch up," said Const. Paul Dimini with Calgary police.
City crews were working Sunday to clear backed-up storm drains and assess damage to public property, noting that some streets still remained impassable.
Saad Taleb, who lives in northeast Calgary, said nearly every home in his neighbourhood has seen some level of damage.
"I've been in Calgary 40 years, this is the first time I've seen a storm like this," Taleb said. "I've never experienced this before.
"It's a disaster."
Taleb said his personal vehicle's front windshield was completely destroyed. The hail was so large that it popped his car's headlight out, he added.
Jennifer McKenzie, who lives on the second floor of an apartment building in northeast Calgary, said the storm made the entire building shake.
"There wasn't one single car that didn't have [smashed windows]," McKenzie said. "Most of the cars in [our] parking lot don't have windows anymore.
"There isn't one single panel on my car that doesn't have hail damage, and the siding of the building is completely destroyed."
Damages yet to be calculated
Last night's storm saw hailstones the size of tennis balls falling in Calgary, likely at a speed of 80 to 100 km/h, according to Environment Canada.
Kyle Brittain, the Calgary bureau chief for the Weather Network, said Saturday's storm represented a "very classic severe weather pattern that set up."
"The atmospheric pattern set up to favour severe weather in Alberta," he said. "When you have that strong wind shear and that strong jet stream and that really good moisture at the surface, you're going to get severe storms. And that's what we had."
Brittain said such hailstorms seemed to pop up in Alberta every 1-in-5 or 1-in-10 years. He said he wouldn't rule out $100 million in damages for this particular event.
"But it's still early in the season. Typically the season doesn't really get going until July," he said. "It seems to be off to an early start this year.
"There's nothing stopping another one from happening in the same city later this year."
Calgary Fire Department Batt. Chief Alistair Robin said most of the aftermath of the storm would be focused on repairs and hail damage claims.
"There's significant damage for sure in the northeast with some houses ... the siding on the exposed side of the house completely taken off the house," Robin said.
"There was significant damage in pockets of the city, but the majority of the city escaped the worst of it."
Coun. George Chahal said his ward in northeast Calgary was "a disaster."
"Every vehicle that I've seen parked on the street is severely damaged, houses are shredded, the vinyl siding has been completely torn and damaged," he said. "There's an extensive amount of damage in every community [in the ward] right now."
Scott Armstrong said all three of his family's vehicles would need to be written off as a result of the storm.
"Unfortunately the storm drain on our street is completely plugged and inoperable," he said in an email. "The floodwaters threatened several of the homes on our street as there was nowhere for the water to drain to.
"Thankfully the rain finally stopped last night and the water managed to drain away by this morning."
Armstrong said one of their vehicles was completely submerged by the flooding, and the exterior of the family's home is "destroyed."
A lightning strike in the community of Evanston damaged a residential structure, but started no fire.
Robin said the Calgary Fire Department responded to more than 100 calls in a two-and-a-half-hour period, and no injuries have been reported so far.
The department was dispatched to more than 20 water rescue events, and performed two water rescues using their deployable water rescue craft.
Seeing people having breakdowns and crying while trying to assess and clean up the damage is so sad... this <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HailStorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HailStorm</a> did some incredible amount of damage. Thousands of houses damaged from minor to very serious... not even including vehicles! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/abstorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#abstorm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/YYC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#YYC</a> <a href="https://t.co/xfcQhYj71i">pic.twitter.com/xfcQhYj71i</a>—@Chris_Ravary
Police in Calgary said many major thoroughfares closed last night and crews worked to rescue stranded drivers as pooling water caused significant traffic delays.
Calgary Transit said several bus routes experienced delays due to extreme weather and flooding in the city's northeast, while electricity provider Enmax Corp. reported several weather-related outages in the city.
"It's been quite stressful over the last number of years in Calgary, with the recession and then with the pandemic and the challenges with that," Coun. Chahal said. "Now with this. It's one challenge after another that we're getting hit with.
"We're a strong, resilient community … but the impact is, it's tough. It'll be tough as we clean up and rebuild through what's happened."
The city is asking residents to clear clogged street drains if they are able, and to call 311 if they see unsafe situations.
Do you have photos or video of the aftermath of last night's storm? Send us an email!
With files from The Canadian Press, Sarah Rieger, Helen Pike and Briar Stewart