Medicine Hat sees damaged property, power outages from Saturday's storm

By Jessie Weisner
April 29, 2019 - 5:20pm Updated: April 29, 2019 - 7:14pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB -- It was the first Spring storm of the season.

Blizzard conditions collided with thunderstorms, leaving a blanket of snow across southern Alberta.

In Medicine Hat, Redcliff and Cypress County, the 90 kilometre per hour winds caused some destruction.

“I woke up about 2 in the morning because of the wind and my gazebo was on the ground,” says Peggy Carnegie, a Redcliff resident.

Despite tying it to the fence and putting weights on the legs, Peggy’s brand new gazebo was destroyed.

However, she wasn't the only resident to wake up to damaged property. The storm took down fences, trampolines, barbecues, and trees.

“The one in the Flats was a fairly large branched tree and it took out the power lines,” says Tom Coffey, Medicine Hat deputy fire chief. “I think the power was out down there for several hours.”

A large spruce tree fell on top of a power pole, snapping it in the process.

“One of the issues was the wind at the time was clocked at the time at close to 80 to 90 km/h so there was limitations for the safety of the crews, they had to wait until the storm or wind kind of died down so they could address it,” says Tyler Masson, superintendent of stations, equipment and meters for the City of Medicine Hat. “They had to trim the tree too, to make sure it wasn’t going to fall down anymore and make the situation worse.”

That took out the power to the South Flats for roughly eight hours.

Other regions of the city lost power as well, caused by ice and snow buildup and branches falling on power lines.

“At one point we had approximately 11,000 customers out,” says Masson “Spread out from Southridge to the Flats, to Parkview."

The Medicine Hat airport saw four airline flight cancellations as well, with one or two possibly resulting from the weather in Calgary.

Highways across the province experienced closures on Saturday night and Sunday morning, including Highway 1A.

Medicine Hat wasn’t the hardest hit. A total of 10 to 20 centimetres of snow was reported in Calgary, causing chaos on the roads, and more than 120 confirmed collisions.

In addition, Carrot Creek and Rimbey reported roughly 30 centimetres of snow, 17 centimetres of snow in Red Deer and 14 centimetres of snow in Edmonton.

Coffey says Saturday’s storm could have been a lot worse.

“We were expecting a lot worse than we got in Medicine Hat actually,” says Coffey. “The storm kind of went around us, it just wasn’t as bad as expected in the area.”

To help mitigate damage during these storms, the city trims trees in different areas of the city every year. This prevents stray branches from falling on power lines.

“In seven years, we get to around the entire city and manage the foliage that way,” says Masson.

Masson still encourages residents to trim their own trees.

“If a tree that they’re responsible for,” says Masson. “They don’t have the time to trim it, it can fall over and cause cascading effects to not just their yard but to the neighbours, the area, that sort of thing.”

As of now, every Hatter has power again, but some some of that damage still remains.

“After all the crying’s done, I’m hoping to get a new (gazebo),” says Carnegie.

Three new cannabis stores to open in Medicine Hat