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Thunderstorm shakes Airdrie, tornado touches down north of Cochrane

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jul 03, 2014 02:43 pm

Cindy Brown-Jubran took photo of what appears to be smoke after lightning was spotted at Woodside Rd in Airdrie, west of Sagewood.
Cindy Brown-Jubran took photo of what appears to be smoke after lightning was spotted at Woodside Rd in Airdrie, west of Sagewood.
CINDY BROWN-JUBRAN/For Rocky View Publishing

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The skies above Airdrie lit up in dramatic fashion on June 27 and 28.

Lightning strikes were seen all over the city as a large thunderstorm hovered over head.

“That was the biggest boom we have heard from thunder in our time here in Airdrie,” said Cindy Brown-Jubran, Woodside resident, who snapped a picture of what appears to be brown smoke as the aftermath of one lightning strike. “We are originally from Vancouver and the summer storms are a lot different there. The flash appeared when the boom happened...it was like a camera flash went off in the entire house.”

Brown-Jubran said the intensity of the storm had the whole family gathered together.

“Our whole family had (gathered) in the living room, all four kids were frantic about the previous thunder and when the big boom happened, our lights clicked off for about five seconds,” she said.

“In that time I looked out the window and saw the brown smoke... it was actually really thick at first and had dispersed more by the time I grabbed my phone to snap a picture.”

Bill McMurtry, meteorologist with Environment Canada, said lightning strikes for Airdrie weren’t uncommon for this time of year.

“They (lightning strikes) are very common when there are thunderstorms like the one we saw on June 27 and 28,” he said. “It’s very common for the foothills and into the prairies.”

McMurtry explained the storm also produces a large funnel cloud and a tornado to the west of Airdrie.

“We did get confirmation of a large funnel cloud that touched down on Highway 22 between Cochrane and Cremona at 4:30 p.m. on June 27,” he said. “It was a large funnel cloud and when it touches ground, it is classified as a tornado. There were no reports of damage and it didn’t last very long.”

He said it’s not uncommon to see tornados in June and July for the foothills region and for southern Alberta.

“The good news is, that leading into the weekend you are going to see (more typical) summer weather, with little precipitation and warmer temperatures,” he said.

Environment Canada issued precautions to take during a lightning storm.

If caught outdoors:

Seek shelter in low-lying areas such as valleys, ditches and depressions but be aware of flooding.

Stay away from water. Don’t go boating or swimming if a storm threatens, and get to land as quickly as possible if you are already on the water. Lightning can strike the water and travel a substantial distance from its point of contact.

Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as tractors, golf carts, golf clubs, metal fences, motorcycles, lawnmowers and bicycles.

Avoid being the highest point in an open area. Swinging a golf club, or holding an umbrella or fishing rod can make you the tallest object and a target for lightning.

You are safe inside a car during lightning, but be aware of downed power lines which may be touching your car. You may receive a shock if you step outside.

In a forest, seek shelter in a low-lying area under a thick growth of small trees or bushes.

Keep alert for flash floods, sometimes caused by heavy rainfall, if seeking shelter in a ditch or low-lying area.

Indoor Precautions:

Before the storm hits, disconnect electrical appliances including radios and television sets. Do not touch them during the storm.

Don’t go outside unless absolutely necessary.

Keep as many walls as possible between you and the outside.

Don’t handle electrical equipment or telephones. The electrical current from the lightning strike will travel through wires and cords and if you are directly connected with them, you could be struck. Use battery-operated appliances only. Cordless telephones are safe, however you could receive a very loud noise on the phones which may seem like a shock. This would be consistent with the house or somewhere nearby being struck by lightning.


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