Deadly tornado, golf-ball size hail hits western Canada

Storms produced golf-ball size hail that damaged crops across western Canada and spawned a massive tornado that killed two people in Manitoba, according to the Canadian Crop Hail Association.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury and the entire community in Manitoba,” said Rick Omelchenko, CCHA president. “We are here, as partners, to help the farm families impacted by this storm and the others across the region.”

The storms occurred Aug. 1-9.

CCHA member companies are investigating about 400 claims of crop damage during the time period with many claims still coming in.

Murray Bantle, of Co-operative Hail Insurance Company, said storms damaged cereals, pulses and oilseeds in the Saskatchewan communities of Neilburg, Senlac, Carlyle, Lemburg, Midale, Stoughton, Consul, Estevan and Vibank.  Pea to golf-ball size hail was reported.

“For June, 98 percent of the claims have been adjusted, with a 55 percent decrease in claims reported and a 50 percent decrease in the average claim and a 4 percent increase in the number of days with reported hail from the 5-year average,” he said. “For July, 60 percent of claims have been adjusted with a 14 percent decrease in claims reported for the month. So far, our average claim is on par with the 5-year average. The number of days with claim activity is on average.”

Beth Shewkenek, of AG Direct Hail Insurance, said storms damaged crops in the Alberta community of Drumheller.

Jackie Sanden, of Agriculture Financial Services Corporation said storms damaged crops in the Alberta communities from Crossfield to Drumheller and Consort to Provost.

They also hit Stettler to Killam and Vermilion and north to Kitscoty, Sanden said. There were pockets of claims near Water Valley, West of Didsbury and Olds, near Torrington and Trochu, and in Eckville, Warburg and Barrhead. A small number of claims were reported near Wrenthan and south of Stony Plain, she said.

Cassandra Holt, of Canadian Hail Agencies, said storms damaged crops in the Alberta communities of Drumheller, Rosedale, Viking, Heisler, Stettler, Barrhead, Rosebud, Strome, Forestburg, Provost, Alliance, and Killam.

In Saskatchewan, she said storms damaged crops in Cutknife, Norquay, Unity, and Consul.

“As harvest gets underway, we remind all policyholders to review their hail insurance provider’s protocol for harvesting prior to inspection,” she said.

Brendan Blight, of Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, said storms damaged canola, wheat and soybeans in the Manitoba communities of Virden, Birtle and Hamiota. They produced pea-size hail and high winds with the tornado south of Virden.

He said agency offices continue to take calls about claims from these storms.

Darryl Tiefenbach, of Additional Municipal Hail, said storms damaged crops in the Saskatchewan communities of Macklin, Unity, Neilburg, Richmound, Maple Creek, Moose Jaw, Lajord, Francis, Estevan, Torquay, Midale and Lampman. He said wind and rain are factors in adjusting for damage.

“There are varying amounts of damage in the areas,” he said. “These were spotty storms and isolated in nature.”

Scott McQueen, of Palliser Insurance, said farmers reported storms that produced half-inch hail in Alberta, Saskatchewan and parts of Manitoba. Strong wind is a factor in adjusting for damage.

“With crops now in advanced stages we are starting to see some heavier losses in the cereals and pulses,” he said. “Farmers should leave adequate test strips if they are harvesting crops prior to adjustment.”