After rushing outside clad in only my socks and shorts last week to rescue our patio furniture and plants from a sudden gale force wind and rain, I realized just how fast our balmy Alberta summer weather can change. To say the least, it has surely been a warm, wet, and wild July, with the usually sizzling month of August to look forward to.
During the past month, in the wake of several unannounced rock and mud slides, Alberta Tourism and highway officials have warned anyone travelling through the mountains should be prepared for some possible lengthy delays. A recent slide just west of Banff left hundreds of vehicles stranded, with some families having to spend many hours sitting in their vehicles on the highway.
So to prepare in advance for these unpredictable summer emergencies, here are some of the items we should be taking along in our vehicles for holidays or long trips.
Non-perishable food, matches, water in plastic bottles, sleeping bag or blanket, extra shoes or boots, flashlight, a road map, first aid kit and instruction book, your required medication, extra cash, extra pairs of comfortable pants and coats, a deck of cards, a few books, writing paper and of course your cellphone or whatever to let those who need to know about your new adventure.
If it were me, I should likely be taking along some sort of mini- porta-potty, a couple of rolls of toilet paper, my hairbrush and toothbrush, and her make-up kit. Of course many of you have those fancy GPS systems on board but I doubt if even they could tell you how to get around a landslide.
Severe weather conditions
As we know only too well, each and every summer day or night can quickly produce the volatile formula that could create such severe and sudden weather conditions such as thunderstorms, heavy rains, powerful wind gusts, hail, and of course devastating tornadoes. In the wake of the horrific disasters of Black Friday in Edmonton on July 31, 1987 and the Pine Lake tornado on July 14, 2000, meteorologists have put together sophisticated satellite and early warning systems allowing them to inform all areas of the threat of impending storms well in advance of their fury. These active 24-7 forecasts are available on the weather channels, radio and television broadcasts, and on the Internet, and should be checked daily, especially before you head out on your trip or if the skies appear threatening.
The cardinal rule when a severe storm is in our area is to get everyone inside, stay away from windows or doors, and always have a lower area available as a safe shelter, such as your basement, under the stairs, or storm cellars. If you are caught outside when the storm hits, head for your vehicle or the nearest building. Here are some of the places that we should not be in a thunderstorm, remembering all the noise means nothing, it is the lightning that hurts, and can strike from long distances away.
• Under a tree or standing next to any free standing structure such as a light pole or water tower.
• Standing on a hill above the 16th fairway trying to finish up the great under par game you are having today, which in this case, could be your last.
• Sitting in a boat in the middle of the lake trying to catch enough fish for supper.
• Standing on your back porch watching the magnificent lightning show.
• You can also get a rather nasty shock during a storm by chatting on the phone, or sitting in front of the television or any other electrical gadgets.
• I will never forget many years ago when our Meniak team was trying to finish up a close fastball game against the Baptists when lightning hit the back stop, everyone hit the ground, the diamond cleared in about 30 seconds, and thank goodness everyone lived to tell the rather shocking tale.
Please just keep right on enjoying your summer holiday but always play it safe, and check the sky and the weather forecast, just in case.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out the annual Ponoka Community Fair on Aug. 1 at the Ag Event Centre, drop in and next weekend enjoy the cool atmosphere of the Black Elk Hockey Camp at the arena complex, and have a great week, all of you.