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Wednesday, 30 November 2011 11:39

Extensive damage as winds batter region

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By Jamie Woodford
Southern Alberta
Southern Alberta isn’t Kansas, but it came extremely close as strong winds wreaked havoc across southern Alberta Nov. 27.

Trees blown onto roadways caused RCMP detachments in Claresholm, Fort Macleod, and High River to issue travel advisories to all commercial and recreational motorists on Highway 2 between south of Calgary and Fort Macleod.

According to Environment Canada meteorologist Matt Albers, a strong pressure gradient developed as a result of a low-pressure system that moved into southern Northwest Territories creating a “chinooking effect” throughout Alberta. Strong winds developed along the foothills last Sunday morning and spread to the Lethbridge region by the afternoon.

Environment Canada reported wind gusts clocked at 117 km/h in Lethbridge, and as high as 134 km/h near Pincher Creek.

Claresholm saw a steady 100 km/h wind with gusts up to 130 km/h.

Claresholm RCMP officer Cpl. Daylen Orsten said there were 13 calls to the detachment in the first two hours after the wind started.

“We’ve had a building destroyed. We’ve had a roof ripped off another building. We’ve got power lines down, trees on houses,” he said, adding there were three vehicle rollovers reported on Highway 2 between Granum and Parkland.

“(It’s) crazy windy. I even lost some shingles off my house. In the four years we’ve (been here), that’s never been an issue before.”

Alberta Emergency Alert (AEA) issued an “Information Alert” for Claresholm last Sunday afternoon reporting wind gusts up to 130 km/h. The website said the community was experiencing “heavy, damaging winds,” and advised residents to stay indoors.

Turner Valley and Black Diamond were also issued an alert with winds gusting to 120 km/h through the region.

A “Critical Alert” was issued for Calgary. The city’s downtown core was closed to all traffic due the “dangerous and damaging winds” that smashed windows in at least two high-rise office buildings.

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