Stormy weather rips part of roof off Saskatoon business

Wind gusts reached speeds of 87 kilometres per hour during a storm in Saskatoon on Thursday, downing trees and damaging a local business.

City began planning emergency response at noon Thursday

A cleanup is underway at 102 Packham Ave. in Saskatoon's Sutherland neighbourhood after a storm ripped roof material from a business. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

Brett Strongquill says it looked like the storm had passed. He works at the east side Creeway Gas in Saskatoon's Sutherland neighbourhood.

Around suppertime Thursday, he says it appeared the ominous cloud bank that had been rolling toward the city had broken up — and then a customer opened the door and the wind kicked in.

"And then the dust started flying and I was working on the till with a customer and all I seen was a big black tarp just come right off the roof and come flying down," he said.

Brett Strongquill was working at a nearby gas bar in Saskatoon when he saw the destruction wrought by yesterday's winds. (CBC)

The roof cover, from EFL Flooring, covered the parking lot and draped over vans and trucks. Strongquill didn't realize that there was a man inside one of the half-tons which had been covered by debris.

"He was on a phone and all he said was that some fricking big shadow come over and he just got right his truck right away."

The man was not hurt. The company is still assessing the damage to the building.

City officials met with Environment and Climate Change Canada around noon Thursday as reports of the weather system heading this way became more serious. A tornado watch was issued for the City of Saskatoon, which means conditions were favourable for a tornado.

"It brought some pretty strong winds with it ... it caused quite a bit of havoc," said Terri Lang, warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada. 

Wind gusts were recorded in excessive of 85 kilometres an hour. The city tallied the damage on Friday.

Seven arborists were called out to assess damage to trees. There were 50 down, 20 landing on power lines, which contributed to power outages in the Buena Vista, Queen Elizabeth, Erindale and West Industrial neighbourhoods. The lights came back on after about four hours.

Part of the roof came off the EFL Flooring plant on Packham Avenue in Saskatoon's Sutherland neighbourhood Thursday night. (Crystal Littlewolfe)

Environment Canada also said there was a tornado touching down on the Red Pheasant First Nation, near North Battleford.

Emergency crews were kept busy.

"Crews went out to ensure that the public wasn't in harm's way with the power lines that came down," said Saskatoon Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Brissaw.

Crews handled eight calls for downed lines.

Winds started picking up around 4 p.m. CST and continued on for about four hours, with the wind gusts peaking around 6 p.m. 

It turned out there wasn't much rain — less than two millimetres, according to Environment Canada.


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