Saskatchewan

Storm hits large swath of central Sask., wreaks havoc at Melfort farmers market

A series of storms brought strong winds and heavy rain to the Melfort, Nipawin and Carrot River, Sask., area on Thursday, according to Environment Canada. 

Environment Canada recorded winds in the area Thursday of 128 km/h

Janet McMartin was at the Melfort farmers market when suspected plough winds blew through the area on Thursday. (Submitted by Janet McMartin)

A series of storms went through the Melfort, Nipawin and Carrot River, Sask., area on Thursday brought reports of heavy rain, hail and strong winds, according to Environment Canada.

Terri Lang, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said there's no evidence of a tornado yet, but they are still gathering information. 

"The fact that it's pretty widespread across a very large area would indicate that it's more of a plough wind situation. Tornado damage is usually really localized," Lang said. 

Janet McMartin was in the Melfort Co-op parking lot at the weekly farmers market when the winds started picking up. 

"All of a sudden, it came up, the wind, and it just started to take everything," McMartin said. "It started pouring and everybody was just scattering everywhere." 

About five or six vendor tents were ruined beyond repair but the people at the market were fine, she said. McMartin's sister sells homemade baking, jams and more. Most of her products were taken by the wind. It will cost $400 to replace the tent, McMartin said. 

"Everybody was just out there and everybody was screaming and it was quite the sight. We didn't know what was really happening because, wow, it was, just the wind was just so strong that it was just blowing everything," she said. "It was horrible."

The entire storm lasted about 15 minutes and involved high winds, rain and hail, McMartin said. 

The storm at the market lasted about 15 minutes. (Submitted by Janet McMartin)

Not long after, Dakota Kolody and her partner were cleaning their ambulance in Carrot River, about 100 kilometres from Melfort.

The paramedic said it was a regular, humid day, with no indication of a storm at first.

But then, "you could kind of see the clouds coming in pretty dark and you could actually see them spinning, kind of like funnel clouds," Kolody said.

"Then just out of nowhere, all of a sudden the winds picked up."

The storm lasted about 30 minutes, bringing hail and rain. Kolody said she could hear trees being knocked down all around. 

Ryan Edwards posted about the storm damage on his farm on Twitter. Edwards farms in the Arborfield, Sask., area. (Ryan Edwards/Twitter)

"We saw firefighters go out and we took just a drive around the community to see if anyone needed help cleaning up and stuff, and probably every third house had a big old tree down in their front or backyard," Kolody said. 

None of the houses looked like they got hit, Kolody said, and no one needed medical attention. Instead, community members came out to help seniors in the area. 

"Everyone in the community was out helping," Kolody said. "It was awesome."

Ryan Edwards posted about the storm damage on his farm on Twitter. Edwards and his family farm in the Arborfield, Sask., area. (Ryan Edwards/Twitter)

Winds were recorded by Environment and Climate Change Canada of about 128 kilometres per hour. Lang said people often don't know plough winds can have the same wind speeds as a tornado. 

"They can do a lot more damage over a much larger area," Lang said. "We're hoping to get more information from people if they can send it." 

People can submit images and video by posting on social media with '#skstorm' or emailing skstorm@canada.ca 

Lang said she wouldn't be surprised if there were more damage reports in the north as the plough winds moved that direction last night. 

Lang is asking people to be on alert for storm watches and warnings in their area as the summer continues. A watch is issued when there are the ingredients for a storm; a warning comes is when it's time to take action. 

"We're right in the heart of severe weather season," she said.

Lang said one contributing factor is the amount of moisture being given off by growing crops, which can contribute to severe storms. 

People should head to a basement or central room without windows in the event of severe weather, as many injuries happen due to flying debris, Lang said. 

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