Wind, rain and even some snow arrives in Alberta
Intense low pressure system prompts Environment Canada to issue wide-ranging weather alerts
Wind, rain, and even some snow began falling over much of southern and central Alberta on Wednesday as Environment Canada warned wind gusts could exceed 100 km/h in some places.
An intense low pressure system moving eastward across the province is to blame for the unsettled weather, the agency said.
"Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur," Environment Canada said on its website.
Central parts of Alberta will also likely get 20 to 30 mm of rain on Thursday, and more rain could fall in areas where thunderstorms develop.
The Environment Canada public alerts page also has wind warnings most of east-central Alberta, from Bonnyville south to Medicine Hat, and from Airdrie east to the Saskatchewan border.
In Calgary, the wind began picking up mid-afternoon, the same time rain starting falling. Snow was also reported in northern areas of the city and was seen in the mountains to the west.
High winds forced flights departing from Edmonton International Airport to be grounded for a couple of hours and inbound flights were diverted to Calgary and other airports. That is expected to last until about 5:45 p.m.
Debris and construction sites
Since 2011, all construction sites five storeys or higher in the downtown and Beltline are required to have an advanced weather forecasting system, said Cliff de Jong, senior special projects officer with Calgary Building Services.
That gives builders 48 hours notice of severe weather to ensure materials aren't blown around by high winds.
"It's hour-by-hour wind gust prediction maximums," said de Jong. "The expectation is they keep their sites safe and free from falling debris because of winds."
The change was implemented in response to the death of three-year-old Michelle Krsek, who died when she was hit by a piece of sheet metal blown off the Hôtel Le Germain that was then under construction at 112 Ninth Ave. S.W.
The general contractor, Grenville-Germain Calgary Limited Partnership, the building's owner, Germain Residences Ltd., and the subcontractor, Flynn Canada Ltd., each later pleaded guilty to violating the Alberta Safety Codes Act.
Germain Residences Ltd. and Flynn Canada Ltd. were fined $15,000 each.
In 2012, a major windstorm that saw gusts in excess of 100 km/hr left shattered windows and debris strewn across downtown Calgary.
Protect the garden
The stormy weather could be bad news for gardeners, but there are some simple steps to protect the new plants, says Colin Hayles, a purchaser for Golden Acres Home and Garden.
"The number one tip is to get plants into shelter if possible — bring them inside, get them into a garage," he said.
"If that's not feasible then get them staked, get them braced. Do something to your intermediate trees and your tomatoes and peppers and your taller veggies ... And any hanging baskets, get them down and get them inside if possible."
The bad weather isn't forecast to stick around for long. Calgary's outlook calls for sun and highs of 20 C and 22 C on Friday and Saturday.
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