May 30, 2024
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By Darren BernhardtRachel Ferstl

Chris Crond was riding his bike to work in Winnipeg’s Garden City neighborhood on Thursday night when the hailstones began to fall like bullets.

He said, “Every second passed… the pace increased.” It was intense. “It was crazy.”

He took cover under a corral of shopping carts in the parking lot at Canadian Tire as the storm intensified. As water reached his ankles, ice rattled above the awning.

He told CBC Friday that it was “terrifying”. It was the most terrifying situation I have ever been in.

The storm passed almost instantly after it began.

On Thursday night, large hailstones accompanied by strong winds caused damage to vehicles and houses in the north and east parts of Winnipeg.

Brad Vrolijk, senior weather forecaster at Environment Canada, said on Friday that the evening had been “quite wild, both in terms of the weather and also with regards to damage.”

The hail was up to golf ball size and there were winds of up to 90 km/h. It was one of Winnipeg’s worst storms in recent memory.

Vrolijk reported that a line of storms began around 6 pm on the east shore of Lake Manitoba. The southernmost of these storms cut through Winnipeg.

He said that it began to “perk” up as soon as the plane approached. “And just before it reached the northern end, it ramped it up really hard,” he added.

Marilyn Magtoto was covered with bruises on both legs after being caught in hail while riding her bicycle near Dugald Road.

She told CBC Friday, “It was just really heavy.” There was nowhere else to go.

She said the storm was “out of nowhere” and that it had been sunny and warm when she, a group and other women went out on Thursday night.

They huddled on the side to shield themselves.

Magtoto: “We could only hold onto the bikes and brace us.”

As of Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., 311 had received 330 calls reporting downed trees or damaged trees.

West Kildonan, North Kildonan as well as eastwards through Transcona were the hardest hit areas. Dugald weather station, just east of Dugald city, registered a gust of wind of 133km/h.

Vrolijk stated that “90 [km/h] was the point where we begin to warn about wind damage.”

He said that there was a report about a funnel cloud and possibly a twister near Dugald. Someone said the tornado touched down on their property and caused damages.

We’re looking into it today. Vrolijk stated that it’s difficult to tell if there was or wasn’t a tornado.

He said that most of the low-lying clouds in the storm looked as if they were rolling on the ground. With all the cloud moving into the storm, many things may look like funnels that are not.

Vrolijk stated that it’s likely damage was caused more by a “very powerful, straight-line wind” than a rotating tornado.

He said that although the amount of rainfall associated with this storm was not great, it fell very heavily and quickly in certain places, leading to localized flooding. This cleared after an hour.

Vrolijk reported that Selkirk was just north of Winnipeg and had the most rainfall, with a volunteer reporting 110mm.

He said, “It felt like they were trapped in a cluster of small storms which were moving slower out of that area.”

Barb Robson, a babysitter in Transcona at the time of the storm, was watching her son. She was in the rain and wind, but didn’t notice it much until she reached home – just a few miles away.

She said that her street, Victoria Avenue E. looked as if it was swept by a storm.

It was horrendous to see the destruction when I got home. When I arrived, there were piles of snow that looked like ice. My plants are all done. My garden is done.”

Hail has damaged the eavestroughs and siding on her house, garage, and shed. They are either broken or pitted. The trees in her yard, and those of her neighbors are all down.

We’ve lived here over 40 years and I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s quite sad,” Robson said. There’s going be a large insurance claim. Many people will have to work hard.

Vrolijk said that more clouds were rolling into Winnipeg on Friday. There was a possibility of some showers, but nothing major.

The city’s power was out on Friday, affecting about 2,700 people in Luxton, nearly 1,000 in Transcona, and many more in The Maples, North Kildonan, and other areas.

The storms of yesterday caused significant damage to our network in Winnipeg and southern Manitoba. Anthonie Koop, Manitoba Hydro’s spokesperson said that there were outages in the entire region. She also noted numerous reports about trees falling.

Our crews responded to emergency calls throughout the night and addressed outages affecting large numbers of customers. However, we are still without power for over 5,000 people. This will be the focus of our efforts today.

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