Windstorm whips up debris, traffic woes in Calgary

Calgary was walloped by wind gusts that downed power lines and sent debris flying Tuesday, as a weather system howled across large swaths of the province.

Parts of central and southern Alberta under wind warning as system moves across the Prairies

Glass blew from a tower in downtown Calgary and crashed into the windows above Devonian Gardens on Tuesday as the city was battered by winds. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Calgary was walloped by wind gusts that downed power lines and sent debris flying Tuesday, as a weather system howled across large swaths of the province. 

Winds gusting as high as 130 km/h were pounding parts of southern and central Alberta on Tuesday, according to Environment Canada. 

The agency said a strong low pressure system was moving through Alberta and into Saskatchewan, with the strongest gusts hitting the foothills before slowing somewhat as the wind moved across the Prairies. 

On Tuesday afternoon, power was out in several Calgary neighbourhoods, and power lines were downed in several areas. 

Social media was also alight with reportings of vehicles being blown off the road, like the tweet of Riversdale Hey who said he'd "seen seven trailers flipped between Airdrie and Leduc. Lost a visor ... to boot."

Tom Sampson, the head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said some traffic lights were out and warned drivers to pay attention at intersections. 

Stephen Avenue, between Second Street and Third Street S.W., was closed due to glass crashing to the ground from a tower.

"Some of the calls that we're attending involve … one is a brush fire but with this wind it could move very quickly. We're responding to calls for debris on the road, for downed power lines, for downed branches and downed trees that are impacting people's safety," said Calgary Fire Department spokeswoman Carol Henke.

A downed power line left scorched grass in the city on Tuesday. (Dave Will/CBC)

She said the fire department was dealing with 33 incidents around 4:30 p.m. MT.

Sampson said winds were expected to diminish around 9 p.m. and warned citizens to stay inside. 

"It's not a great time to go out and look at the wind and watch your neighbour's trampoline fly over the fence, that sort of thing," he said. 

Social media posts showed some of the damage and traffic problems across the city. 

Gusts of 100 km/h were expected across southern Alberta, including Calgary. 

Outside the city, there were reports of downed power lines and a semi that rolled over on Highway 3, just west of Highway 509 near Lethbridge, due to the winds. Traffic in the area is down to a single lane, according to Alberta 511.

Winds had also whipped up wildfires in several areas and led to evacuations in Coleman, Airdrie, Gleichen, Hilda, Empress, Acadia Valley, Willow Creek, 

Central regions around Edmonton were expected to see gusts up to 100 km/h as the system heads east toward Lloydminster, accompanied by thunderstorms. 

The winds are expected to diminish overnight, according to Environment Canada. 

A warning issued by the agency said the winds could damage buildings and could send loose objects flying. It also cautions drivers to be cautious.

With files from the Canadian Press