Hot summer days can stir up severe weather conditions

Keeping an eye to the sky during the summer is a necessity in central Alberta

Like so many thousands of others my wife and I were totally shocked last Thursday afternoon, June 30 when an emergency tornado warning appeared on the television for the Ponoka town and county and Maskwacis area. We quickly phoned our daughter and brother and sister-in-law to see if they were okay, and they assured us ‘yes’ from a safe spot in the basement. As we said a few prayers for everyone, it wasn’t long before the trusty iPad and TV started to show startling photos of an ominous funnel cloud taken from up at the Ponoka Stampede grounds, where 10,000 people in the vacinity.

Unfortunately in the surrounding areas and in the north end of town, there was considerable damage to several homes as a trampoline and lots of other debris were whipped up into the air by the 130 mile per hour twirling winds, but thank goodness that no one was injured during that very sudden storm. I have no doubt that our community and districts will respond as they always do to express our concern and care as well as to assist those who have suffered losses and extreme stress during this very volatile and frightening incident.

Being prepared for severe weather

These hot and muggy days of summer are great for going to the beach and lots of other neat outdoorsy activities, but they also may create the perfect conditions for severe weather onslaughts that can quickly evolve into thunderstorms, heavy rain and hail, and of course, the most dreaded tornado. Tornados are one of nature’s most powerful, destructive and unpredictable forces as shown in two of Canada’s most horrific disasters, including the category 4 tornado in Edmonton on July 31, 1987 and the devastating Pine Lake tornado on July 14, 2000.

Our weather prognosticators now have the assistance of a lot more technology to help them map and predict severe weather conditions and warnings, but there are also many ways that we can prepare ourselves for sudden storms or emergency events. As well as checking the weather forecast on the media or on all of our electronic gadgets whenever possible, it is always a great safety idea to have all of our community emergency numbers handy, to develop an emergency communication plan and to always keep our family and friends updated. The 24-hour Alberta Emergency Management number is 780-422-9000 and toll free 310-000 for further information and updates.

*Always prepare for tornadoes, power outages or other sudden serious events by gathering emergency supplies, including food, water, medications, batteries, flashlights, important documents, road map and a full tank of gas in case of a sudden evacuation notice.

*When a tornado approaches, anyone in its path should immediately take shelter indoors, preferably in the basement or in an interior first floor room or hallway. Always avoid windows and seek additional protection by getting underneath large and solid pieces of furniture.

*Avoid automobiles and mobile homes, which provide almost no protection against tornados, and those who happen to get caught outside, should lay flat in a depression or on low ground and wait for the storm to pass. Have fun this summer, but play safe, and please be prepared in case of sudden emergencies.

A great point: When we buy from a small business, we are not helping a CEO buy a third holiday home. But then again, we are helping a little hometown girl get dance lessons, a little boy to get his first team jersey and their moms and dads to put food on the table…..all by shopping locally.

Have a great week, all of you.


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