Top ten weather stories for 2012: story nine
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9. Hail to Calgary...Again
When a monstrous storm pelted parts of Calgary with hailstones larger than golf balls late on August 12 it was shades of 2010 all over again. The storm was briefer and stones smaller than the $400 million dollar disaster that hammered the city’s downtown two years ago – the biggest and most damaging urban hailer in Canadian history – but it still left its mark. In a matter of 10 minutes, pounding hail dimpled vehicles and riddled house siding with millions of dents. The only saving grace was that the storm’s late evening arrival meant fewer vehicles were exposed to the falling hail. At first light, broken glass from shattered windows and sun roofs littered new car lots across the city. In northeast neighbourhoods, hailstones smashed windows and skylights, flattened flowers and turned backyard vegetable gardens into coleslaw. A parks official said the storm left the worst tree damage he’d ever seen. Hail also penetrated the thick shell of the Calgary Saddledome forcing the building to close to investigate possible leakage.
Two days after the bombardment, temperatures at the airport dropped from 23°C to 11°C in one hour, signalling the arrival of another wicked, fast-moving storm. This time strong winds with gusts of up to 100 km/h, copious amounts of rain and quarter-sized hail piled damage onto damage in Calgary and nearby Airdrie. Largely a wind and rain event, the storm brought down power lines, uprooted trees, pushed over trucks, set off alarms and blew out windows in downtown Calgary buildings. Insurers pegged total damage claims and business losses from the double hit at over $500 million, accounting for half the dollar claims across Canada in 2012.
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