Cleanup from powerful windstorm continues in southwest, with more storms on the way

By | June 17, 2020

Some Manitobans are bracing for more hot, windy, sticky and potentially stormy weather on the heels of a powerful windstorm that ripped through the southwest early Wednesday, uprooting trees and tipping vehicles and farm bins.

Cleanup crews armed with buzzing chainsaws were busy throughout the day in Treherne, Man.

Resident Shirley Tate is expecting a costly, time-consuming cleanup in her yard after the destruction left behind from gusting winds that tore through the Red River Valley.

Tate woke up around 4 a.m. to the sounds of howling wind, followed by cracking and a thud as the storm brought towering trees in the area outside her home crashing down.

“It was raining so hard you couldn’t see anything, and the lightning was just flashing,” she said. Tate took shelter in windowless bathroom during the storm, which occurred in the middle of an unusually windy two-week period, she said.

“This was unreal — the roar, you know. It was scary, very scary.”

Shirley and John Tate evaluated the mess of battered trees outside their home in Treherne, Man. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

She fears hot weather in the forecast could bring more threatening weather Wednesday evening.

Winds in the area reached peaks of 133 km/h between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., said Rob Paola, a retired Environment Canada meteorologist in Winnipeg.

The Treherne golf course closed down following the storm and called in staff and volunteers to clear out the damage in time for a tournament scheduled for Thursday morning.

Staff and volunteer cleanup crews are dealing with a mess of downed trees and damaged power lines in Treherne, Man., and surrounding areas. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

The well-known windmill in nearby Holland, Man., was damaged by winds, and Manitoba Hydro crews were out repairing broken poles and downed lines in the area on Wednesday.

The community hoped to clean up in time to reopen for a tournament at the local golf course in Treherne, Man. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Sandy Nattrass, who lives on a farm near Treherne, southwest of Portage la Prairie, said the wind was pounding on her windows.

“Every once in a while I would think, ‘Oh my God, is the roof going to come off the house?’,” she said.

That was felt in Oak Point, on the southeast shore of Lake Manitoba, just north of St. Laurent.

Gusts between 100-120 km/h were recorded through the western Red River Valley, including Portage la Prairie, Paola said in a Twitter post.

Strong winds knocked a sail off the windmill welcoming visitors to Holland. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Once the sun started to come up, Nattrass could see her deck furniture “everywhere except in the right place.”

There were shingles scattered around the yard and a tree — or part of it — lying in the road.

“Oh dear, this is not very good,” Nattrass said as she took in the scene while talking to CBC. “I guess we’re going to be calling insurance.”

Sections of roofs were also torn off two homes on Long Plain First Nation near Portage La Prairie. One of them belonged to the daughter of Chief Dennis Meeches, who said a camper trailer in the yard was also flipped over twice.

Thankfully, no one was hurt, he said.

“They were home and the trailer was parked in their yard, and the storm hit about 4:30 a.m. It was quite intense,” Meeches said. “So, glad they’re OK. It’s just heart-wrenching to see.”

The band council is meeting Wednesday afternoon to assess the damage and decide whether to declare a state of emergency.

Another hot, possibly stormy day

A large chunk of southern Manitoba remained under a heat warning from Environment Canada, which forecast daytime highs just above 30 C, but said high humidity values could make it feel more like the upper 30s. 

In Winnipeg, a severe thunderstorm watch was in effect.

Windy weather tipped over silos outside of Treherne early Wednesday. (Gary Soliak/CBC)

Environment Canada issued severe thunderstorm warnings and watches for several other areas in southeastern Manitoba — from the U.S. border as far north as Berens River.

As of 7:45 p.m. CT, the agency was tracking a storm moving northeast that is capable of producing very strong wind gusts, nickel-size hail and heavy rain.

Severe thunderstorm warnings currently in effect for:

  • RM of Alexander, including Powerview-Pine Falls.
  • RM of Brokenhead, including Beausejour and Garson.
  • RM of Springfield, including Anola and Birds Hill Provincial Park.
  • RM of St. Clements, including Grand Beach, Brokenhead and Libau.
  • Municipality of Emerson-Franklin, including Roseau River.
  • RM of De Salaberry, including St. Pierre-Jolys and St. Malo.
  • RM of Hanover, including Steinbach, Niverville and Grunthal.
  • RM of Ste. Anne, including Richer.
  • RM of Stuartburn, including Zhoda, Vita and Sundown.
  • RM of Tache, including Lorette, Ste-Geneviève and Landmark.
  • RM of Lac Du Bonnet.
  • RM of Reynolds including Ste. Rita, Hadashville and Rennie.

People in and around those areas should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and prepare to take cover, Environment Canada says.

The agency issues severe storm warnings when thunderstorms are likely to produce, or are producing, large hail, damaging winds and torrential rainfall.

Meanwhile, the Interlake region and the bulk of the southeast is under a thunderstorm watch. Conditions are favourable for the development of dangerous thunderstorms that may be capable of producing damaging wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain in the afternoon, Environment Canada says.

A cold front is expected to move through the province Wednesday night, bringing a return to more seasonal temperatures and humidity.

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