Roads flooded, flights delayed as intense storms sweep Alberta

A string of violent storms that hit Alberta on Tuesday left at least five people in hospital in Calgary and streets and homes flooded across the city.

A string of violent storms that hit Alberta on Tuesday left at least five people in hospital in Calgary and streets and homes flooded across the city.

High water levels led to major traffic jams in Calgary. ((CBC))
Four people were taken to hospitalafter being in the vicinity of or hit by lightning on Tuesday. As well, fire crews rushed to three homes and a garage struck by lightning, including a house in the northwest neighbourhood of Tuscany, where the blaze left a firefighter with minor injuries.

On Wednesday morning, a 23-year-old woman was hit by a tree and was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Calgary fire department warned people Wednesdayto stay away from the Bow and Elbow rivers becauseboth waterwayswere moving fast and full of debris.

On Tuesday night, power outages grounded flights at Calgary International Airport, while others were delayed because of lightning. Calgary city officials said storm sewers were overwhelmed,flooding300 intersections.

A firefighter was injured after a house was struck by lightning in the Calgary neighbourhood of Tuscany. ((Jim Powlesland))

Hundreds of people were trapped in their cars on flooded roads, notablyon the city's main highway, the Deerfoot Trail. As well,14 StreetNWbuckled in front of the Jubilee Auditoriumfrom the pressure of water flowing down the street.

The Harry Hays building in downtown Calgary has been closed because of water damage, which has also closedas many as12stores in the Chinook Centre Mall on Wednesday.

"Parts of the lower level of the mall had up to 18 inches of water," said Heath Applebaum, a spokesman for the mall's management company.

Flash flooding in Edmonton

In Edmonton, trees and power lines were knocked down, and there was flash flooding on two main freeways, Whitemud Drive and Yellowhead Trail. The storm also swept through St. Albert.

There were reports of a tornado touching down near Stony Plain around 4 p.m. MT, but Alberta Environment couldn't confirm that.

Orest Zinchuk reported seeing a funnel cloud down briefly near the community as the storm swept through the area, carrying hail the size of ping pong balls, along with driving rain and high winds.

"I saw what I thought was a tornado… and it lasted for about 15 seconds," he said. "It just dissipated very quickly, but yeah, it looked like it was reaching down to the ground from where we could see it."

Waist-high water levels forced many motorists to abandon their cars. ((CBC))
The parking lot at the local Safewaywas so flooded that some of the carswere trapped in standing water.

Banff escapes downpour

The resort town of Banff escaped the torrential downpour, but a flood watch remains in effect.

Marjorie Huculak, a spokeswoman with Parks Canada, said people should stay away from the Bow River.

"The river is very cold right now, fast flowing and there's quite a bit of debris. We've already had some instances we had to respond to so even though it is something quite breathtaking to take a look at, it's best just to stay away," she said.