‘Gustnado’ knocks out power in parts of Saskatchewan

Strong winds are being blamed for widespread power outages in Saskatchewan.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) says severe thunderstorms brought damaging winds to the north and southeast corners of the province.

Terri Lang, a meteorologist with ECCC, says the storm on Sunday was a supercell with the potential to bring a tornado.

“After that tornado risk passed, the storm started to broaden out. And that’s when the risk of these really strong winds became quite evident,” said Lang.

Lang said there haven’t been confirmed reports of tornadoes so far, but that the wind still caused significant damage.

“We did see a video or two of some really strong winds and it was reported as a tornado. But the meteorologists looked, it looks more like what we would call a gustnado or strong outflow winds coming from the storm. Those, of course, can do quite a bit of damage,” said Lang.

Lang said ECCC has also received reports of flash flooding, along with golf ball and tennis ball sized hail, in the southeast. 

This picture was taken near Langbank, Sask. ‘We had lots of reports of large hail. Looks like as large as baseballs to tennis balls,’ says ECCC meteorologist Terri Lang. (Bucky Boren)

Lang said the storm was so severe ECCC decided to issue its first ever “Broadcast Intrusive Warning” since upgrading its warning system. The system is also used for Amber Alerts and other urgent bulletins.

Lang said that the storm moved northeast across the province, knocking out power lines in places like Kipling, about 145 kilometres southeast of Regina, and Pelican Narrows, about 420 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

“That’s when the risk of these really strong winds became quite evident,” said Lang.

Crystal Leggett was in Kipling celebrating Father’s Day when the storm hit.

“It was a complete whiteout when wind and rain came out,” says Leggett

After the storm passed they toured the community to survey the damage. 

“Tree branches hanging on power lines were also a little scary,” says Leggett.

 Joel Cherry is a spokesperson for SaskPower. 

“We did have damage to both transmission and distribution lines in the southeast part of the province, in particular transmission lines, higher voltage lines,” said Cherry.

This picture was taken near Moosomin, Sask. ‘After that tornado risk passed, the storm started to broaden out,’ says Lang. (Mhairi McDonald)

Cherry said the wind knocked trees onto power lines in Pelican Narrows, but that power had been restored in the northeast as of 12:45 p.m. CST Monday.

In the southeast, crews were still working today to restore service.

Cherry said there were still 175 to 200 customers without power in the Moosomin/Wapella area.

Lang said ECCC is still looking for pictures or videos of the storm from the public. She asked people to tweet with the hashtag #skstorm or email ECCC.

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