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Video: High winds kick up gustnado in Central Alberta Wednesday night

A storm that blew through Central Alberta knocked down trees in Innisfail and caused tornado-like dirt formations called gustnados.
Innisfail RCMP were suddenly put on traffic control during the late afternoon of June 11 when a powerful windstorm, with hail and rain, blew through town and knocked down trees along 42 Street; a main arterial road in the community. The storm lasted about 30 minutes. Photo by Jason Heistad.

INNISFAIL – Mother Nature blew into Innisfail and the region with plenty of wrath late yesterday afternoon; knocking down trees on the west side of town and triggering loads of alarm.

But Tuesday’s (June 11) supper-time windstorm, which also came with rain and nickel-sized hail, was short-lived in Innisfail, blasting for less than 30 minutes.

Earlier in the day Environment Canada issued an alert that predicted a good part of the province would experience severe summer-like weather, and just before 5:30 p.m. a thunderstorm warning was issued for the corridor between Edmonton to Calgary, mainly along Hwy. 2.

“Strong wind gusts can toss loose objects, damage weak buildings, break branches off trees and overturn large vehicles,” Environment Canada said in the alert.

When the storm arrived in the region between Penhold in the north and Olds, about 45 kilometres to the south, there was rain, hail and powerful 70 km/h winds.

Innisfail RCMP, joined by local peace officers, were quick to respond to reports of trees being blown down along 42 Street, a main arterial road in town running east to west.

“What we saw with the trees going down was probably the extent of the damage,” said Ken Kowalchuk, communications and marketing manager for the Town of Innisfail. “Some trees did come down. We actually had those cleared off pretty quickly. They didn't block the road for any period of time.”

Local resident Jason Heistad noticed the fallen trees along 42 Street just outside Westwood Court Mobile Home Park.

“It was a really bad windstorm that took down those trees,” said Heistad. “The weather networks were clocking the winds at close to 80 kilometres an hour. It took down a portion of a fence. It was fully covered by debris.

“We had a great response from the RCMP and our peace officers to close down 42 Street,” he added. “There was a section, probably about a block on 42 street, that was closed down so that the utility and parks workers could clean up the debris.”

Innisfail RCMP Staff Sgt. Ian Ihme said police and peace officers were at the scene from about 5 to 7 p.m. while town public works staff removed a tree that was blocking traffic.


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