Experts Say No Evidence of a Tornado at Scotford Colony
Damage is extensive at Scotford Colony, and includes a grain-processing facility, hay shed, and silo. However, even though the damage will take months to repair, it is not believed to be caused by a tornado.
Dan Kulak, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist at Environment Canada confirmed to OEP that there was “no evidence to say [a tornado] was likely” with Saturday’s storm.
Eyewitness reports by experienced storm trackers helped confirm a lack of tornadic activity on Saturday, with both trackers and meteorologists suggesting that the damage caused by the storm system was a result of straight-line winds.
Meteorological analysis and reports of those present near the storm indicate that the event was most likely what is referred to as a “microburst.”
Beth Allan, who has been a storm spotter for several years, managed to get a stunning photo of the storm just as it reached the Scotford Colony.
“I had a very clear view of the storm, and in my non-meteorological opinion, there was nothing tornadic about the storm,” she said.
“It resembled what is known as a ‘shelf’ cloud which indicates that the winds are moving in a straight line, not twisting in a tornadic storm,” she continued. “At no time was there ever a funnel visible nor was there a wall cloud, which is what funnels and tornadoes usually form. I don’t think there was a tornado within this storm.”
Storm chaser Nevin deMilliano said that many who are not knowledgeable about the science of storms assume that only tornadoes can cause extensive wind damage. In reality, other phenomenon can cause damage. “100 km/hr winds are violent, scary and dangerous,” he said. “If I didn’t know better, I would assume it was a tornado,” he concluded.
Concerns about storm education were also echoed by Environment Canada. Kulak said that straight-line winds and hail actually cause more damage in Alberta each year than tornadoes, while lightning causes more deaths than all wind types combined.
Of all the possible hazards in a storm, lightning is “very under-respected,” said Kulak.
He advised that people need to recognize that tornadoes are not the only storm risk, and when there are warnings issued, people need to do “anything you can do to protect yourself.”
“You can replace property… you can’t replace lives,” concluded Kulak.
Environment Canada warnings were issued well in advance of the storm’s approach. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued at 12:41pm while a Warning was issued at 6:26pm, well in advance of the microburst that ultimately caused damage at Scotford Colony.
Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur was among the first municipal representatives at the scene at Scotford Colony. Speaking to OEP, she said she went there out of concern for those living there. “I care about their welfare, as I do any of our own residents,” Katchur said.
Fortunately, she learned that despite the intense winds, nobody was injured.